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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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Cultivating Crowns Forum

The Cultivating Crowns Forum is for young women ages 18-24 who wish to improve their competitive edge.

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Date: June 28, 29 & 30, 2017

Location: Seaside Civic & Convention Center

Teens To Queens Academy

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This workshop, for teens 12-16 is designed to help you improve skills that help give you the competitive edge on the stage and in life.

We will help participants learn to become more confident, poised and prepared.  Network with like-minded teens, improve upon your personal brand.  Workshops include lectures on Interview, Platform Development, On-stage Introduction, Modeling & Styling, and Insider Secrets.

Date:  June 28th -30th 2017

Location:  Seaside Civic & Convention Center

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!