It is an interesting feeling to be standing on this side of the Miss America pageant, an event that I have been dreaming about my entire life. As proper behavior demands, I have to say that it was an excellent experience from which I have returned with a multitude of friends. It is a relief to admit that this is very close to the truth. It was indeed an excellent experience, one that I am so fortunate to have been a part. At this time, it is hard to tell if I have made lifelong friends for only more time will tell for sure. However, I hope to be worthy of such friendships to these young women. I certainly have a bias, but I daresay that this was the most fantastic class of contestants yet to grace the Miss America stage. They have been an inspiration to me in the way that they conduct their lives. From their dedication to their platforms to their surety of success in the future, the class of 2012 will no doubt be a force to reckon with in the years to come.
I have to mention my roommate, Jackie Jerlecki, from Indiana. From the moment we met and found our shared obsession with the man of steel (Superman) we knew we were going to be perfect together. Early on we decided that efficiency was going to be our theme for the week and Jackie was perfect at maintaining while keeping my scattered brained self on task. I especially loved meeting troll. (Every Miss Indiana brings the same small pageant troll as good luck.)
Our new Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler, was in South Jersey last week to visit Atlantic City and also to stop into Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury. As a surprise, Lou and I met up with her for dinner. I am pleased to announce that she is really enjoying her duties as Miss America! I have to admit before meeting up with her for dinner I was a little nervous. I was going to be with the one and only Miss America after all. My nerves were abated immediately because she really was no different from the sweet, smart and down to earth girl that I competed with for 10 days in Vegas. I am confident that whoever she meets during her year will also feel drawn to her warmth.
Tennessee Williams once said, “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” I believe this to be very true, and I am blessed with so many loving family and friends. Before, during, and after the Miss America pageant, I have been showered with good wishes and steadfast support.
This past weekend I had to say good bye to Natalie Ragazzo as my little sister. She had a great year as Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen. She is everything that is wonderful about teenagers. She is so full of that electricity that gives you energy when you are with her. She is beautiful and talented with the whole world ahead of her to conquer. However, it was not just a night for farewells. Amanda Ross is the newly crowned Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen, and it is my pleasure to welcome her to the NJOT sorority. I have no doubt that she will do an excellent job this year because she came out of a group of extremely competitive girls. I am so excited to get to know her the second half of my year.
Until next time,
Miss New Jersey 2011