It seems like just yesterday I was reading Serena’s first blog post as Miss Teen of America. I have admired her poise, intelligence, and fun-loving personality since I first met her at the 2016 Northeastern Regional Pageant, and I was, and still am, so proud of everything she has accomplished. Flash forward one year and I suddenly find myself in Serena’s shoes (not literally, I don’t think I could walk in those heels!) It has already been three weeks since my name was announced as the national titleholder and it still feels like a dream. I am unbelievably honored and grateful for this opportunity, and I am SO excited to share my experiences with you all!
On November 14, I boarded my flight at the Harrisburg International Airport and watched as snowy Pennsylvania disappeared below the clouds. On the plane, I prepared my state dinner and personal introductions because, let’s be real, we ALL procrastinate on occasion. Two hours later, I stepped out of the Orlando International Airport onto a street lined with palm trees. As I inhaled the refreshingly warm Florida air, I smiled and realized just how much I had been looking forward to the National Pageant. The following day I checked in to the Hyatt Regency Orlando which, by the way, has the PRETTIEST chandeliers I have EVER seen, and headed to registration and orientation. Shortly after, the #APClassof2017 and I changed into our crazy pajamas and slippers and danced the evening away in a hotel conference room. As I laid in my bed later that night, I realized how quickly I had come to know and love my fellow titleholders, and how grateful I was to be there surrounded by such kind, accomplished, and amazing women from all across the country. Whether we were at Wonderworks experiencing our first inclusion event, shopping at Charming Charlie’s, sharing a burger at Johnny Rockets, or taking much-needed naps together in our hotel rooms, there was never a dull moment at the National Pageant.
The day of the Final Pageant was filled with excitement, a little bit of nerves, and A LOT of “pre-goodbye” tears. As my fellow titleholders, better referred to as sisters, entered the stage for the opening number, I remember thinking how deserving each girl was of the national title. When the music began, I vowed to represent Pennsylvania the best way I could think of- by having the time of my life! I danced my imaginary crown off my head, gave my personal introduction with confidence in my evening gown from TJ Maxx (WHATTT? I KNOW RIGHT!), and wished each and every girl the absolute best of luck. Although most of the evening of the Final Pageant is a blur of emotions, I vividly remember when I suddenly found myself on stage holding hands with the Miss Teen of Tennessee, Shelby Bellah. I had never expected to make it to the top two, but I was so proud to have brought Pennsylvania so far!
When my name was called as the new Miss Teen of America, I remember thinking that it was not real life. Several weeks later, I still have to pinch myself every so often to make sure I am not dreaming. I know that I am in for an incredible year, and I am so blessed to have this opportunity. Thank you American Pageants and my countless new sister queens, thank you to my fellow Pennsylvanians, and thank you God! I hope to make you all proud!