“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down…I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. This is brave, this is proof, this is who I’m meant to be, this is me! Look out ’cause here I come; and I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, THIS IS ME!”

On June 23, 2018, 48 young women and I stepped into the light to the music and lyrics of “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” and the final competition began for Miss North Carolina 2018.  Our producer, Freddie Lee Heath, certainly picked a thematic song for that monumental occasion in all our lives.  We were and are warriors; that’s who we collectively became.  What an honor for me to be chosen as the soldier to carry the hopes and dreams of my 2018 Miss North Carolina Class to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as their Miss North Carolina 2018.  Today, as I arrive in Atlantic City to represent each of those remarkable young women in the 2019 Miss America Scholarship Competition, one of the most momentous competitions in the organization’s history as the competition has already endured rounds of bullets and bursted through barricades, it is with tremendous pride that I say, “I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is [us]!”

Today I join their hopes with 50 other young women, unapologetically, because collectively we are Miss America.  An evolving American institution of service and scholarship completed by style and leading each young woman who participates on a path of success, I am humbled to have reached this moment in my life; but not for me as a sole entity.  I am humbled to be here as a member of the 2019 Miss America class, the representative of my 2018 Miss North Carolina Class, and a servant to my state organization, our sponsors, and all the wonderful people of the Tarheel State.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut [it] down,” this is Miss America 2.0 and we all should and must be proud of our organization and what it is becoming.  Today is a new day in the ever-evolving organization and it is each of our opportunities; candidates, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, and friends to collaboratively say, “[We] deserve your love, because there’s nothing we’re not worthy of.”  Today I begin a journey into a new Miss America Competition proudly wearing a banner inscribed “Miss North Carolina.”  I am going to take every second of it as God’s gift and very seriously knowing I represent the best of my state and our nation in this program of women’s advancement.  Thank you for entrusting this most awesome opportunity in me.  On your behalf, I’m proud to be seen marching on to the beat we drum.  Look out…here we come…this is us…and I am proud to be a part of definition of Miss America 2.0!  Miss North Carolina 2018 and friends, LET’S DO THIS!