As I approach the half way mark of my year of service to the state of North Carolina, I find myself being very reflective. I am thrilled to have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. Six months, 162 appearances, over 25-thousand miles traveled, the privilege of singing our National Anthem 23 times, one Miss America experience, and countless memories later: I am overflowing with gratitude. Am I tired? Yes. Have there been some tough days? Yes. But there has never been a day I did not want to put on the crown and sash of Miss North Carolina. I have a purpose and a plan that is still in progress…and that makes me excited and more driven than ever.
When we (as contestants) sit in at Miss NC Work Weekend, we are asked by our leadership, “What do you want your legacy to be?” During the five years of my participation in this system, the first thing to pop into my head is “Esse quam videri”. It is a Latin phrase, in addition to our state motto, meaning “To be, rather than to seem”. I personally think it’s very fitting for my job and for how I wish to be remembered. I want “to be” Miss North Carolina: the embodiment of service, kindness, intelligence, and class. I want “to be” the person who lights up a room, not by personal characteristics, but by the way she makes others feel. “To be” the woman parents, teachers, and guardians entrust their children to look up and listen to. I never want “to seem”, which the Dictionary defines as “to appear to one’s own senses, mind, observation, judgement”. I want “to be”, which is defined as “to exist or live”!
There are so many misconceptions out there…and it is with great humility I endeavor to change those negative thoughts about young women who strive to succeed with a crown on her head by every word I speak/write and action I take. The aspect I love most about the Miss America Organization is that our women speak for themselves. Their accomplishments, hearts of service, and genuine personalities outshine any negativity that comes our way. We have surrounded ourselves with people who lift us up “to be” the best we can be. The crown does not define us, but rather it is the stepping stone that leads us to our true potential. We have yet to reach the pinnacle of our lives because these women, like myself, aren’t satisfied with remaining static. .
My parents always taught me the following truths:
A great mentor must be mentored.
A true leader puts others before him/herself.
And an advocate never tires of standing up for what is right.
May we all strive in this holy season of Christmas “TO BE” rather than “to seem”.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Miss North Carolina 2017