The Miss North Carolina Class of 2019 began its formation what seems like just hours ago when my Miss North Carolina roommate and dear friend, Alyssa Johnson, crowned Miss Statesville 2019, Kaitlyn Sparks.  Kaitlyn, a young woman with whom I have had the pleasure of competing, became the first 2019 classmate who will join hopefully 50 or more young women competing for the Miss North Carolina crown this summer.  Tonight, the class grows by three!

It is with great excitement, after a day of preparing for my send off to Miss America and working with sponsors of my Ford Fusion, Dunn Benson Ford, that I will attend the local competition where Miss Moore County, Miss Greater Carolina, and Miss Greater Sandhills will be selected.  Like attending Miss Statesville, this will be a nostalgic evening for me as three of my 2018 classmates will relinquish their titles.  And just as I felt at the Statesville competition, I hope to see each return to the Miss North Carolina stage as each has so much to offer.

I had the distinct privilege of serving as a member of the North Carolina Azalea Festival’s Queen’s Court in both 2017 and 2018.  Both experiences were among the most rewarding and memorable of my life; 2018 largely because of my Azalea roommate and dear friend, Autumn Hubbard, Miss Greater Carolina.  From the late nights and early mornings we shared getting ready, from the dress fitting mishaps, to competing at the Miss North Carolina Competition together, Autumn, you are so dear to me.  I competed with you early in my journey, and one of my very favorite memories of the Miss North Carolina competition is with you; watching as your dreams of being in the top 5 at Miss North Carolina came true.  We have shared in so much stress, excitement, and joy together.  Thank you for reminding me that #GreaterIsComing. I am so proud of all you have accomplished in this organization and in life.  It is an honor to call you my sister.

I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and that each person needs their own troop of prayer warriors.  Megan Huff, Miss Moore County, among my 2018 Miss North Carolina Sisterhood, was without fail my strongest prayer warrior.  We met, too, as members of the North Carolina Azalea Festival Queen’s Court and formed a bond of prayer together from that time forward.  From Wilmington, to the full s’mores bellies and #nomakeup coffees at Miss NC camp, to competition week for the Miss North Carolina title, I could always count on you being there with me to privately come together with God and ask His guidance and grace through this wonderful experience we shared.  Megan, I sincerely hope you will continue to walk strong in your faith, both in the Lord and in this organization.  You have begun your travels to greatness and God will guide you, as He does us all, each step of the way.  I hope His plan brings you back to the Miss North Carolina stage for you have so much more to offer and accomplish there.  I believe in you.

I am not sure, no matter how prepared one is, she is fully prepared to be a state titleholder.  As prepared as I felt, not but a hot second out of the gate I found myself in Pinehurst with Megan, Autumn, and Miss Greater Sandhills, Emily Muse, who turned an embarrassing situation for me into one of comedic relief and great fun.  Joining these ladies for a parade and misplacing my car keys, I was stranded in Pinehurst wearing a lovely pair of Nike shorts, a gym shirt, and a pair of high heels.  Ladies, thank you for inviting me to dinner and entertaining me at the Japanese restaurant.

Emily, I am so fortunate to have gotten to know you better that night.  It was a night of laughs and sisterhood I will never forget; much like I will never forget your amazing evening gown presence on the state stage and the fact, “They Just Keep Movin’ the Line.”  You are such a bright and engaging young woman, so tangible and earthly…I hope you to see your return to the organization as well.  You have so much to give.

This is shaping up to be a great day for me.  Before leaving for Atlantic City I am having the time of my life with some great sponsors, great people, and remarkable sisters.  I will forever be bonded with the 48 young women from the Miss North Carolina Class of 2018 and it is with terrific joy I watch them proudly crown their successors and the 2019 class form.  Nothing makes me prouder to be Miss North Carolina than the young women I shared this experience with and local volunteers and sponsors who paved all our ways to Miss North Carolina.  This tree did not grow without roots.  Let’s keep watering them…I am sure I will with tears of joy this evening seeing these three inspiring young women celebrate their achievements this year.