Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition week and the beginning to my Miss America 2.0 journey!

I thought that arriving in Orlando, meeting all of my sisters and kicking off this Miss America experience would be incredibly overwhelming. I thought that being surrounded by 50 incredible, intelligent, dedicated women and realizing the size of this organization I am a part of would consume me. Thankfully, I was wrong. Day one of orientation was exciting as it was the first time the entire Miss America class of 2019 were in the same room. We heard from the MAO chairwoman, Gretchen Carlson, as well as the CEO, Regina Hopper, who helped paint a picture of their vision for the future of this program in our minds. Miss America 2018, Cara Mund, spoke to us all as well and I was in awe. What was truly a pivotal moment was when we were told that Miss America 2019 is here, sitting in this room, we just don’t know who she is yet. That was a crazy realization that in a few weeks, one of us will wear that crown of honor to serve our country and represent the MAO, CMNHospitals, our home state and every community in America. 

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Tuesday night, the first night of preliminary competition for the teens, I saw Miss America step into an elevator and as she turned to face the doors I waved to her and she waved back! I would be a liar if I said my eyes didn’t begin to water and I felt giddy like a kid at Disney World! To me, Miss America was this inspiring role model I had only seen through social media. That night at visitation after the show I had my chance to not only take a picture with Cara, not only meet Cara, but I received the warmest hug from this incredible woman. She has such a warm personality and literally was warm to the touch as her hand shook mine! In that moment talking to Cara she made me feel as though I was the only one in the room even though there were many people surrounding us waiting for their turn to meet our queen.

Fast forward to the next day and my first day of Miss America orientation, Cara spoke to the entire class. I could not believe what an opportunity I have ahead of me and the honor I have sitting in that room as Miss Oregon, representing my home state and coming to realize that I get to compete for the job of Miss America in just a few short weeks!

Each night before the teen preliminary competition our entire class would meet to walk to the theater together. Sitting with my sisters as we watched our teens take the stage was so much fun. Watching Kennedy on that big stage made me one proud big sister. Kennedy went into Miss America’s Outstanding Teen true to herself and it showed on that stage! She excelled in each phase of competition and didn’t let a single thing discourage her radiant smile. Kennedy’s energy is so magnetic that nothing can stop her from being her. She was stunning in her light blue gown and answered her on stage question with such poise and grace. Being able to articulate an answer to a question you have never heard before on a stage with an audience watching you is not something I could say I would be comfortable doing at sixteen years old! Kennedy truly impressed me. Wednesday night, the next phase of competition for Kennedy was lifestyle and fitness and you better believe I was watching that girl’s push up for strength and control! She had high energy and showed us her hard work she has put in at the gym! The final night of preliminary competition was Kennedy’s favorite phase of competition, talent. My girl can SING let me tell you! She came out on the stage in this incredible black beaded gown, took a deep breath and left it all on the stage. This young woman is so talented at such a young age! I would definitely consider allowing her to sing me lullabies every night to put me to sleep!

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Friday was a day off of competition and was a day full of fun! During the day I had photoshoots and filmed promos for marketing material for Miss America. I had a blast with Tall Pony Productions and Young & Rubicon. Huge shout out to them for filming and shooting all 51 of us quickly and making sure that we all looked our best! Friday night was a special night because all of the Miss, Teens, directors and families participated in the 2nd Annual MAOTEEN Children’s Miracle Network Hospital dance-a-thon! We all danced to raise money for the 62 kids who enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital every minute. That’s 10 million kids a year! Last year at this event they were able to raise 33,000 dollars in just 3 hours! This year, I am proud to say that we collectively raised 35,820 dollars!!! This blew my mind. There were some miracle families in attendance as well that shared their stories with us. Also, earlier in the week when we were learning about the partnership the MAO has with CMNHospitals we learned about a young man by the name of Joe Joe. He was born with many health complications that would send any parent in a downward spiral, but not JoeJoe’s family. They had the help of their local CMNHospital who took care of JoeJoe. Well, we had the honor of meeting him and he is truly inspirational! JoeJoe was so excited to see everyone and the moment he ran to give Cara a big hug my heart melted. This is what being the national goodwill ambassador for CMNHospitals is all about. As Miss America part of the job is to put smiles on these kids’ faces who are in hospitals fighting for their lives and to show them that staying positive is how you will push through the tough times. Actively volunteering in the CMNHospitals and raising funds for this organization is what keeps these families hopeful. For people to interact, bond and really build relationships with these miracle kids is what building confidence is all about. I couldn’t imagine facing the challenges these kids are confronted with, but they are fighting, and they are fighting hard! 

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I am thankful that I was in Orlando this week meeting my sisters, learning about the new direction of Miss America 2.0 and watching my teen queen live it up on the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen stage! This year is going to be incredible and I am so, very thankful to have Kennedy to enjoy it with! Kennedy brings out the silly in me and constantly makes me laugh.

I am thankful for her honesty, drive, compassion, talent, heart, poise, gratitude and goofy personality. Kennedy is truly a special soul who leaves a lasting impact on those she interacts with. I cannot be more proud of the young woman Kennedy is and who she is becoming. I am honored to be her big sis throughout her year of growth, volunteerism and service. 

This week has come and gone and I can truly say that I am honored, thankful, blessed and ready, for my Miss America journey. I absolutely loved getting to know my sisters and I did my best to interact with each of them at least once throughout the week! We are so diverse as a class and can really see everyone’s personalities show. I cannot believe that I leave for Atlantic City in just over 4 weeks! So much to do, so little time! I am ready for one of the most incredible experiences of my life! 

That being said, I hope to have the continued love and support from every one of you! Prayers and good vibes are accepted and highly encouraged! Tune in live on ABC September 9th at 9pm EST! See you there! #MissOregonForMissAmerica

Taylor Ballard / Miss Oregon 2018

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MISS OREGON 2018 SCHOLARSHIP PAGEANT

Seaside, OR: June 27-30th, 41 young women from throughout our beautiful state of Oregon will compete for the 2018 Oregon crowns within the Miss America system. With seventeen Teen contestants ages 13 to 17 vying for the role of Miss Oregon’s Outstanding Teen 2018 and twenty four Miss contestants ages 18 to 25, the competition is promised to show the intelligence, talent, physical fitness, and success of these young women. The week will begin with three nights of Preliminary competition starting June 27th, followed by our Finals Competition on June 30th where the top ten contestants in both the Miss and Teen categories will compete for the crowns. Join us at Camp Rilea for our 2nd Annual Crown Town 5K beginning at 8:00 AM or view the Miss Oregon Parade sweeping down Broadway St. in Seaside starting at 2:00 PM that afternoon [for more information or to register for the 5K visit our website] This year marks the 71st annual Miss Oregon Scholarship Pageant and continues the traditions set forth for decades in Seaside.

PURCHASE COMPETITION TICKETS: missoregon.org/tickets

 

About the Miss Oregon Scholarship Foundation: The Miss Oregon Scholarship Foundation provides educational scholarships and opportunities for community service, capacity building and artistic expression for young women in the state of Oregon. Each year, the Organization awards thousands of dollars in support of contestants' educational pursuits, and provides a training ground for participants to develop personal and professional communication and leadership skills. In 2017 the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program awarded over $289,000 in scholarship grants and in-kind tuition scholarships.

FACEBOOK: Miss Oregon Scholarship Programs

INSTAGRAM: @missor_org

About Miss America: The Miss America Organization, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, is the nation’s leading advocate for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States, awarding millions of dollars annually in cash awards and in-kind tuition waivers.  MAO is comprised of 51 organizations, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Miss America contestants contribute tens of thousands of community service hours annually and have raised over $16 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Miss America scholarships since 2007. Miss America is more than a title, it’s a movement of empowering young women everywhere to achieve their dreams by providing quality scholarship assistance and honoring their commitment to helping others.

MISS AMERICA WEBSITE: missamerica.org

About Miss America’s Outstanding Teen: Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, Inc. was organized to encourage positive achievement by helping to nurture and build the scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living, and community involvement of our nation’s youth. Among its initiatives, the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization hosts a national competition intended to encourage and reward the talent, communication skills, community service, and academic achievement of girls between 13 and 17 years of age. In partnership with committed adult volunteers, community and business leaders, as well as participants from the national competition, the Organization continues to implement programs aimed at helping young people develop strong values, leadership skills, social conscience, self-worth and conviction about their own potential.

 

MISS AMERICA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN WEBSITE: maoteen.org


Flying with my own wings: 6 months into my journey!

When I look back to the beginning of 2017, I can clearly remember a girl who was hopeful, excited, but incredibly unsure of what the year held. I was going into my final year of eligibility for a job I had dreamed of holding since the moment I discovered the MAOTeen program existed (around age 11).

So clearly, 2017 was going to be a big year of change for me, either accomplishing my dream or moving onward to something else. I wanted to jump fearlessly into last year, knowing everything I had done had led me there, but I still worried there was more to do. I was trying to discover exactly how my year would unfold, what exactly I would do to prepare and who I would need help from. Most importantly, I began thinking I knew the way before I had even begun, losing trust in the process, and trying to calculate every moment...

 
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Looking back....

Looking back one year later I as I enter the second half of my reign as Miss Oregon’s Outstanding Teen, the road was a bit different then I had imagined. But different doesn’t equal worse, and although I didn’t know it yet, the courage it took for me to leap into another year was going to pay off in the best way possible. With all that said, it takes a lot of faith to trust that everything will happen how it is supposed to. I may of been incredibly scared one year ago, but the hope of my dream remained. I remembered the 11 year old girl who didn’t think she would ever be good enough. I remembered her ambition, her hope, and her dream, which was also very much still my dream.

The past 6 months...

The past 6 months have been filled with incredible moments that define exactly why I wanted this job so much. I had the opportunity to represent my state on the MAOTeen stage, meeting girls from across the country and making best friends for life (which needs an entire blog in itself). Then embarking on my own personal adventures upon returning home, working with organizations to promote animal adoption and welfare. Numerous appearances with Harley where we got to share the sisterhood of Miss Oregon with people throughout the state. One of my favorites being the tour of PDX airport we took, which was my first appearance after nationals. Working with the Every Child Organization to see firsthand the need for foster parents in Oregon, and meeting kids during their holiday party.

I have been lucky enough to meet so many young girls who look up to me. Girls who are just like I once was- newly discovering the MAOTeen program; filled with wonder, excitement and hope. And having the ability to reassure them they too are capable of accomplishing their goals reminds me of what it means to be a titleholder, and more specifically a role model. Telling someone it can be done is one thing, but showing them is another, and  is exactly what I wanted to do.

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”
— Mandy Hale

Love,                                                   

Emma Ellis                                      

Miss Oregon’s Outstanding Teen 2017        

 
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Miss Oregon's Top 10 Moments So Far...

1. Competing at Miss America and getting to know the 50 other women representing their states!

2. My Miss America roommate, Molly (Miss Kentucky).

3. Getting to cheer for Emma at MAOT, and having the opportunity to do appearances with her!

4. Being reunited with many of my Miss Oregon sisters at various appearances and at our annual Christmas party.

5. Speaking about my platform, Intercultural Community-Building, across the state.

6. Wearing my dream evening gown from Regalia on the Miss America stage!

7. Getting to know my wonderful Miss Oregon Princesses, and seeing them grow through their involvement in this program.

8. Being a presenter at the annual Narcolepsy Network conference in October, and talking to other youth with narcolepsy about my experiences.

9. Traveling around Oregon, and being able to appreciate its natural beauty (send me your hiking recommendations)!

10. Getting to know many of the incredible Miss Oregon sponsors and volunteers, and being able to thank them for all they do for this program.

As I Cross the Halfway Point of My Year

The first half of my year as Miss Oregon has been full of new opportunities, amazing friendships, and surprises of all kinds. From watching Emma compete at MAOT, to prepping and competing for Miss America, to the many charity events and speaking engagements I have had, I never could have anticipated what these past six months would bring. They have surpassed all of my expectations and have brought so much joy and fulfillment, but not because of my own doing. Every experience I’ve had this year can be credited to the hard work and wholehearted dedication of the volunteers who make Miss Oregon one of the best jobs there is.

 Miss America Competition LIVE on ABC

Miss America Competition LIVE on ABC

After having spent nearly six months with the title of Miss Oregon, I have been able to see the inner workings of this organization from a unique perspective. I have seen the endless hours that volunteers tirelessly devote to make the program successful, and to ensure that the young women within it are provided opportunities to grow, serve, and attain their educational goals. I have witnessed volunteers pull all-nighters sewing costumes for contestants (okay, it was for me actually); have watched them take on countless tasks for the Miss Oregon Program while balancing careers and families; and have seen them patiently assist with contestant paperwork for hours on end over the phone just to give young women the best possible chance at success.

I have also had the privilege of getting to know a number of our wonderful sponsors. I have learned that not only do these sponsors contribute generously to the program, but most of all they genuinely care about the contestants and titleholders, and want to have a positive impact on our lives. Though the material gifts and scholarships provided by sponsors are very much appreciated, what means the most to me has been the personal relationships I’ve built, and the many instances when sponsors have gone above and beyond to ensure the wellbeing of the program and of us titleholders.

 
 Oregon Polo Classic

Oregon Polo Classic

One of the most valuable realizations I have come to this year has been the fact that the Miss America Organization - at every level: local, state and national - is only what it is because of every volunteer, sponsor, and contestant who dedicates their time and resources to building the program and continually improving it. It sounds obvious, but until you truly see and interact with the individuals who make up the program, it can be challenging to understand the degree to which it is true.

IN LIGHT OF...

In light of recent events with the Miss America national office and board, it is now more important than ever to realize that this organization is nearly 100% volunteer-based and maintains a grassroots-style of operation. While having capable leadership that represents the values of Miss America is vital to its long-term success, it truly is the extensive volunteer base and the dedicated contestants and titleholders who keep the organization moving forward. That being said, looking forward I am hopeful and excited about Miss America and the new directions I am almost certain it will take. In the months and years to come, I hope to see the organization become even more relevant than it is today, and to see it led by women who contestants can relate to and aspire to be like: women who are driven, empowered, and who represent a diverse cross section of society. Although this rough patch in Miss America’s history is full of heartbreak and disappointment for many, I am confident that these new beginnings will bring greater success and opportunity in the organization’s future.

As I cross the halfway point of my year and am reflecting on the past six months, I feel endless gratitude towards those who have been by my side throughout this journey. For the remainder of my year I will keep this sense of gratefulness close to my heart always, as it inspires me to strive to be the best Miss Oregon I can be. In these final months before I pass on my title, I look forward to getting to know as many local contestants and volunteers as possible as I travel the state. I also hope to visit and to thank one more time the many Miss Oregon sponsors who have supported me throughout the year. In the coming months, I will also be speaking about my platform, Intercultural Community-Building, at a number of community groups, clubs, and events. Finally, I look forward to meeting each and every member of the 2018 Miss Oregon class, and to supporting them in every way I can as they prepare to compete for the incredible position of Miss Oregon 2018.

Forever,      

Harley

 
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Inaguaral Miss Oregon Crown Town 5k.....

The Miss Oregon Scholarship Programs is sponsoring its first ever Miss Oregon Crown Town 5k Fun Run/Walk on July 1, 2017!

Entry fee with t-shirt is $25.

REGISTER HERE 


All proceeds will go to fund scholarships for the Miss Oregon Pageant. We are a not-for-profit volunteer-run organization affiliated with the Miss America Organization. Crowns, sashes, and costumes are welcome and encouraged!

The new Miss Oregon will be crowned that evening starting at 7 p.m. at the Seaside Civic & Convention Center. Come out and join the fun!

Flashback to my Washington D.C. trip with the Miss America Class of 2017

On July 2nd, I was blessed with the title of Miss Oregon 2016. The next morning, I was told that I would be getting on a plane in 6 days for Miss America Orientation. I was fortunate enough to get to still make an appearance at Rainier Days the day before I flew out. I have never flown completely on my own before, so this was a new learning experience for me as well. I was beyond happy when I was able to make my connecting flight in the Atlanta, Georgia airport. While on my flight, I was so anxious to meet all of the 51 other women. Little did I know that I was about to start a trip that would be life changing.

Upon arrival, I got straight to work. Without anytime to change I had a microphone put on me and the cameras rolling for an interview. Next, I entered a room full of Sherri Hill gowns. My heart fluttered when they said go ahead and pick your favorite one to keep. I ended up picking the very first one I tried on. It fit like a glove, and I was in love. My next stop was my swimsuit fitting. Then we were gathered on to a bus for dinner. This was my first opportunity to formally meet all of the other ladies. We went around the room to introduce ourselves. Everyone was already getting along so well I could tell that this was going to be a fun group of girls. Getting back to the hotel, I had to go straight into another photo-shoot with Dick Clark Productions. I then finally got to chat with my roommate Miss New Mexico. However, our chat was very short considering we both had another long day ahead of us in the morning.

Day 2 started off by boarding the bus and role call. Hearing all of our states called was a very real moment for me when I spoke up to say here when Oregon was called. We made our way to the Arlington National Cemetery to watch a reenactment done by the USO. We also witnessed first hand how service dogs are utilized on the field. We then made our way over to the Tomb of the Unknown to honor service men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.    

Getting back to the hotel I had an interview with Entertainment Tonight. I really thought that the coolest part of that was getting to go to the penthouse suite to see the view. Getting my first interview with television and all was pretty cool too I guess. Who am I kidding though, I was stoked to have my first interview with television.

Next was a ride on The Capitol wheel at the National Harbor. I was fortunate enough to get to be in the same gondola as Sam Haskell and Miss America Betty Cantrell. The sights were breathtaking. Although we were all singing along to the song playing that the first time we made it to the top we didn’t realize it. So we paid extra attention the second time around.

I even got a good workout in with all of the other contestants with my first introduction to Eqinox bar class. It was a mix between ice skating and dancing. For those of you who know me, I am a complete fitness addict so I was pumped to get to work out. Now when I heard bar class, I was not sure what to expect, but I was really sweating by the end of class!!

With a quick change and freshening, up we were then off to dinner. I have to say our meals were spot on delicious.  I even tried sword fish that night. Being a seafood lover I was very excited about that. After dinner, we went to the Lincoln Memorial to embrace the power of great men making a difference in the world. On the bus ride back, I felt an overwhelming amount of honor to be one of 52 women representing Oregon. Then it was off to bed to get some rest.

Day 3 started bright an early for me because I was the very first one scheduled at 7:00am to do my Dick Clark Production videos. My next event was visiting the White House! I was practically jumping out of my heels with excitement. While in the White House, I got to meet the president’s dogs and embrace every room as an element of history. Then I traveled over to The Capitol for a private tour. I was on my way to Congressman Greg Walden’s office when all of a sudden this alarm goes off saying that there is a lockdown, get in the nearest room without windows. After moments of waiting, it was all clear to walk within the building. I had the pleasure of sitting down the Congressman Greg Walden. Our discussion was focused on the importance of The Miss America Organization and mental health care in Oregon. I then met with Senator Ron Wyden’s office discussing the importance of mentoring within K-12.  I also listened to Senator John McCain speak. Then it was quickly off to dinner and off to bed for the next day ahead.

Day 4 started off with breakfast all together and then a four-hour orientation about what to expect in Atlantic City. It was incredible to hear each board member of Miss America offer a piece of advice while preparing for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Joseph Ribkoff provided a send off lunch with gifts as we all said our goodbyes. I was then on a plane back to Oregon early the next morning ready to start my preparation for Miss America 2017! 

Introducing our new Miss Oregon blog!

Loyal supporters of the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program,

We have yet another way for you to hear about updates to the Miss Oregon program...a blog! The purpose of this blog is to update our followers regarding the overall Miss Oregon program, post photos and videos from Miss Oregon week events, local pageant updates, and blog updates from Miss Oregon herself.

Starting July 2nd you will begin seeing multiple updates throughout the year, so follow our posts via Facebook or Subscribe below!

She flies with her own wings: 
\Alis volat propriis\  
1.  a Latin phrase used as the motto of the state of Oregon.

You don't want to miss the new "She Flies..." blog!