What do Brett Favre, Cher, and I all have in common? You’re about to find out.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 – In the afternoon hours I received a text message from a previous pageant director of mine and good friend informing me of a possible age extension within the Miss America Organization. My mind and heart instantly started to race, but I told myself I needed to stay grounded until I knew for sure if this rumor beared any truth. I arrived back in La Crosse that evening for Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest rehearsal after an extended weekend home in Wisconsin Rapids for family matters. I tried to stay focused on dress rehearsal and my emcee duties for the local pageant, but it was hard not to wonder…
“What if this is God’s intention for me? What if this opportunity is truly meant to be?” Consequently receiving another text message from someone in attendance at Miss America in Atlantic City, who confirmed an announcement during a preliminary show.
Saturday, September 9, 2017 – After a few days of dress rehearsal with the six Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest contestants, it was the day of the show! While I was very eager to welcome a new titleholder to the sisterhood after weeks of preparations, I was curious as to if I would possibly get to compete alongside the woman crowned come June. That evening we welcomed Madeline Kumm (also a Wisconsin Rapids native) to the crazy, fun-loving Oktoberfest family and I couldn’t be more excited for her! I relished my final “official” night in La Crosse with the Oktoberfest grenadiers and royal family members and my dear friend, Katie Zibert (Miss Beloit 2015) not knowing or in that moment caring what the future had in store for me.
Sunday, September 10, 2017 – I woke up and finished packing (actually cramming) my belongings into my old Jeep Liberty (trust me folks, it’s seen better days), dropped Katie off at her vehicle and left the city I’ve called home the past six years. Don’t worry, I did stop at Starbucks for a PSL and a to-go Caramel Macchiato for my mom as well before I got on I-90 to head East towards Wisconsin Rapids. I held my faith near as I departed for home, eager to continue applying for jobs in Madison and save some money at home for awhile.
Friday, September 15, 2017 – It was just after 9:00 a.m. when I woke up to an email response from the Executive Director of the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program. The night before I had sent her a message inquiring about the rumors of the Miss America Organization extending their age limit for eligibility from 24 to 25, a pivotal move that would allow me the opportunity to compete again. The message read, “Yes! The announced in Atlantic City they were raising the age limit.” My eyes instantly welled up with tears as I dropped my phone onto the bathroom rug and stood crying. I spent the past three months wrapping my mind around the devastation and heartache that June brought and just like that, a new opportunity arose. My gut told me, “YAS KWEEN! Go compete, this is your time! You’ll regret not capitalizing on this chance!” However, my heart weighed in with a little more cynism and logic…asking myself, “Is this real life?”
That afternoon I received positive reassurance from some of my biggest support figures-both in pageantry and life, which included this message:
“I think you have to ask yourself, when I’m forty and look back, will I have regret for not trying that one last time, or contentment for never giving up?” This hit me right in the feels friends.
Over the course of that time frame, from the moment I received that text message about the possible age extension to the moment it was confirmed in writing; there was never a doubt about my intensions to capitalize on this opportunity. Truthfully, I was waiting. Waiting to hear and read the change from the Miss America Organization as an entity and know whole heartedly this was an attainable goal this year (rather than the age change possibly going into affect after I would’ve been able to compete). Yes, some may question why I continue to come back especially after being so close in June, 2017. I have had people tell me to move on with my life, to be content with finishing as First-Runner Up and to focus on ‘other things.’ Personal reflection time my friends, if you’ve ever worked your butt off for a goal or an over-arching dream that has set your soul on fire and consumed a great deal of your time and energy and you ultimately fell short of achieving it…would you embrace another shot at that dream? If you said yes, you fully understand where I’m coming from. If not, I genuinely hope you discover something so meaningful in your life that you would do everything in your power to fight for it, advocate for it, and chase it with all your might. Whether I’m truly meant to serve the state or not, if one person connects with my journey and is inspired to persevere I’ve done my job as a titleholder and a human being. Here we go again…