I must be honest. I have been dreading writing this post. I want to update readers on the amazing time that was Miss America 2009 and what I have been up to after but there is simply too much to tell. I am not sure where I should begin...
Send-off seems like a good start. One and a half weeks prior to leaving for Las Vegas my mother had put together a fabulous afternoon with friends, family, supporters, and board members at my alma mater, Saint Michael's College. I want to thank all the people who came out for it. It was a thrill to see each facet of my life represented from family, church, childhood, high school, college, and beyond. Our Miss Vermont emcee, Dana Rosengard, serenaded me with a personalized version of the song I won state with, The Prayer. It (of course) brought tears to my eyes!
Fast forward, a week and I was home packing for Miss America. I felt ready. I was not nervous and I think that was because I already knew and loved the other ladies so much. It felt like I was going away to see my friends. Arriving in Las Vegas was exciting. However, the days were long and tiring. Some highlights were...learning our opening number which I loved, watching Barack Obama's inaguration on the jumbotron outside of Planet Hollywood with the rest of the MU group, having my best childhood friend surprise me by coming to competition, and the big thrill...winning talent!...
I did not go to Miss America thinking I would win talent. In fact, I was a bit bummed about the talent portion of competition because I wanted to sing what I sang at Miss Vermont which was The Prayer in English and Italian. However, 5 weeks prior to Miss America the office informed me that they could not get clearance for the song. My (amazing) voice coach and I had a heart to heart and decided to go with the song that I sang at Fenway Park in July because it got such a great response. That song was God Bless America. Since I didn't have very much time and I liked singing the song without music, we decided it was best to sing the song a cappella. I felt great the day of talent. It is my favorite phase of competition. It was surreal and powerful to step on that stage to a totally silent theater. The decision to sing without music was risky but in the moment made the performance from my side of the stage...powerful. I soaked in every moment, every note, and every breathe. If I could do it everyday of my life, I would. When it came time for awards, I knew I was in a very very talented group of women. I was pleased with my performance but knew it could be anyone's award and scholarship. They announced the swimsuit winner as my dear friend, Miss NY, and then moved onto talent. And the winner of tonight's talent competition and the recipient of a $2000 scholarship is...Miss....VERMONT!" Leigh-Taylor jumped in the air and I ran to the center of the stage to give her a huge hug! Not only did I win talent but I was sharing the spotlight with one of my favorite people in the world! Miss Vermont has never won a preliminary night...ever! It was an honor to break that record. Seeing my friends and family at visitation was the greatest thrill. I was overjoyed that so many of my friends took time from their jobs to support me. It wouldn't have been the same without them!
Saturday's Miss America Live was a bit anticlimactic. I was hoping after winning talent I would be called into the top 11. Yet, that was not the way the cookie crumbled. It was still fun to see my friends up there with the dream of being crowned Miss America still alive! And after the competition was over I found out I won non-finalist talent for another $1000 scholarship. It was a great ten days.
So what now? Coming home from being at Miss America is an adjustment. But is feels great to be back in the Green Mountian State. I still have Right Decision Right Now apperances to do and lots of travel planned for the Spring. I met with my amazing voice coach, Miss Shyla Nelson, today and we are working on the first steps toward a demo. Exciting stuff.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the family, friends, and supporters who watched the reality show and live pageant to support me. I could feel your energy and appreciate it!
Blessings to You and Yours,
p.s. I almost forgot yesterday I was honored at the State House by the Secretary of State, with the Enduring Democracy Award for my work on my platfrom. They even invited me to sing at the ceremony. Former Governor and former Democratic Committee Chairman Howard Dean spoke and the afternoon was filled with acknowledging those who contributed on a state level to democracy in America.