Miss for America Nationals Week

What a whirl wind of a week it was!!! Overall, I had a blast, met some amazing sisters and pushed myself in areas I never have before. Here are the daily highlights although not everything… I could write a book about the entire week and all the amazing women who are part of the first Miss for America class.

I flew into Vegas Thursday morning, August 15th, wearing my Miss DC heels, a cute little white romper and my sash proudly walking through the airport. I was so excited to get there but there was also a lot of unknown of what the week would be like. I knew that I had prepared the best I could. Between my outfits and training, both mentally and physically, I had gone in knowing no matter what happened I was proud of the “package” I was bringing.

Friday I woke up with excitement, this was the start of an incredible week! The alarm clock rang, I got up and walked across the hall to Toni’s room to get hair and makeup done. I then proceeded through the casino to find the check-in room where I met some of the Miss for America/Mrs America staff. I received my swimsuit (a beautiful coral color), Benjamin Walk shoes, my sash for the week. I ran into a couple “sister queens”, once everyone had their sash on it wasn’t hard to pick us out! We then were asked to do some pictures around the casino, I was hoping to show off some pool (billiard) skills (or make it look like I had some for the camera), alas, I went “shopping” instead (for those of you who know me know that is probably more accurate anyway). Once photos were finished, I went back upstairs and got ready for Orientation Dinner. A few of us sat at a round table in a banquet room, telling stories while we ate then received a great pep talk from both Mrs and Mr Marmel, Mrs America, Nicole Cook, and Mrs World, Jennifer Lee. They were all inspiring and uplifting! Dinner finished and it was off to bed to rest up for day 2!!

Saturday started similar to Friday, woke up and rolled out of bed across the hall to be beautified by Toni. Today’s agenda was rehearsal followed by dinner. We all met Frit and Frat, two amazing and fun choreographers who said they would make us all look good dancing on stage (yeah yeah). Music to my ears as I am not really a dancer. My dad has always joked I dance like Elaine from Seinfeld (I have perfected it, he has joked so many times). Anyway – I was ensured I would be okay dancing, I wasn’t convinced but thankfully Miss Alaska, Trish, and Miss Kentucky, Erica, were practicing after dinner and I joined them. We danced a few times then started talking. Trish told her incredibly inspiring story as to why she was there, (check out her video here). Hearing it first hand, my heart sank in sadness for her loss, admittedly I didn’t know what to say but what stuck out is her incredible strength. Not only to be able to talk about what happened but to build her platform around it. Erica was first runner up at Miss Kentucky earlier this year, the current Miss Kentucky was unable to attend nationals, the rules go, if the current queen is unable to fulfill her reign, the 1st runner up will take her place. Erica had 9 days to get ready for a week-long event, the same event I spent over 3 months preparing for. I remember her comment, if I am supposed to be here, God had His reasons. She has such a lovely heart. Miss New York talked about her pageant journey, she has such a bright future ahead of her. What an unforgettable bonding night.

Sunday came around and I again rolled out of bed, across the hall to Toni’s room where she yet again beautified me. Our bonding time was great, we started each morning with talking about what we were both grateful for. I went down to breakfast, then went to a conference room for gift exchange. Each queen brought a gift from their home state, it was so fun to see what everyone came up with! I wanted to keep with the dc theme and got everyone a magnetic quote from Elanor Roosevelt “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” Truer words have not been spoken and hearing some of my sister queens stories, I knew it was the right quote. At noon, a bunch of us went to the lobby to support Miss Virginia, Amber, and her charity, raising awareness for veterans who commit suicide. We filled the lobby, some in gym clothes, some in dresses/heels and did 22 push-ups in support. It was so cool to see all these women not only support our military but support another sister queen and her platform. After the pushups, we caught our breath in time to go back to dance rehearsal, I was feeling better about my dancing skills. Dinner that night was at Benihana, hibachi, my favorite! I sat next to my roommate, Miss Deleware, Daphne and Miss Maryland, Deveney. Mrs America class was also at Benihana at the same time, 104 queens in one place.

Monday we had another rehearsal, this time we were on the stage, the same stage Elvis performed on. Just walking into the auditorium I got chills, as we all went on stage to learn the sequence, I looked out to empty seats and it all became real. It reminded me of when I was on the Kennedy Center stage for the first time. I visualized the entire show, looking out to the audience, taking it all in… Keeping with the Elvis theme, that evening our event was in the penthouse at the Westgate, known as Elvis Suite night. It was a beautiful suite but what I remember about it the most is the number of bathtubs! I tried to get a picture in all of them, I recruited Mrs DC, Nikki, but we got sidetracked after two… I might need to go back just for a photo shoot in all the tubs… I digress…

Tuesday was admittedly a rough day for me… I woke up with my head spinning like I have never felt it before. Not like the stand up too fast give me a minute kind of spins, it just kept spinning. I finally was able to get out of bed, after 15 minutes of trying. I drank some water and protein, started to feel a bit better and went across the hall for hair/makeup. I was still hurting but was going to push through it. I made it down to rehearsal but the minute I started dancing it happened again. My sister queens were so kind in helping, finally I made my way to the bathroom and just broke down crying. I am pretty sure I made a joke asking if pageant week being similar to prom/homecoming, can’t be real unless there’s a gal crying in the bathroom… I think I got some laughs… I was embarrassed, I really had nothing to cry about, it had been an amazing week thus far, great people, I was getting the hang of dancing, yet the tears were flowing, not the Carry Underwood “Cry Pretty” kind of tears. I wasn’t quite sure what I was feeling, it was all new, I couldn’t see straight, felt helpless and honestly I was scared. Miss Florida, Kelsey, came in and asked a bunch of medical questions and there didn’t seem to be anything glaringly wrong (thank goodness). She was so kind in taking care of me. Then Nikki (Mrs DC) and Julie (Mrs CT) came running as soon as they heard I was hurting. We went to get some fluids from the IV bar (usually in Vegas it was used to help speed the hungover along, in my case we thought dehydration had something to do with how I was feeling). A little fluid, Chipotle, and rest and I was starting to feel better. By mid-way to the second rehearsal, I was full on happy-go-lucky Megan again. Truth bomb – I have gone back and forth about writing this last part but in the spirit of being real, I decided to keep it. The amount of concern my sister queens showed was so incredibly heart warming. Even though we were all competing for the same title that week, they all were willing to help and asked how I was feeling after. That is what being a true queen is about, helping those around you. Usually I am not the one admitting I need help, that day I did…

Wednesday I woke up to feeling excited and full of energy. So thankful I was no longer feeling sick and able to get ready for one of the most important days, interview. In the Miss for America pageant, interview counted for 50% of my score (with the rest of the score in swimsuit and gown). Interview was set up as the following, 5 of us go into a room with 5 judges, we each have 3 minutes with each judge, one on one. 3 minutes to wow them, to show them who I am, why I am here, and why I would be the best Miss for America. One of things I worked very hard on prior to this was condensing “who I am”. I am so blessed to have been able to experience all I have but only 3 minutes, I really had to work on my quick bullet points. The time went by quickly and I had a great conversation with all the judges. I left the interview feeling like I was true to myself, my goals, and why I wanted to be Miss for America. That evening we had our dignitary dinner where we provided gifts to Mr and Mrs Siegel for their support and hosting the Mrs America and Miss for America pageant at the Westgate. It was such a lovely dinner, I sat next to “my Mrs” (that’s what all the Miss dubbed our Mrs state counterpart), Nikki. We even wore similar pink color dresses, just by happenstance (great minds think alike so they say)! After dinner we each presented our gift, picked up our program books and I went up to get my final airbrush tan before going on stage the next day.

The next two days went so quickly, parts were a blur and other parts were so crystal clear. Thursday was prelim day, started with review of the flow of the show. Earlier I mentioned 50% of the score was interview, the other 50% would be decided after prelims. We started out in our swimwear, everyone was standing on the platforms, we walk off stage then I was part of the first group who did the “model walk”. Each state was called and we walked to the middle, stopped, walked to one side, walked to the other and then filled in a spot so the next name could be called. The grace and confidence shown in swim was worth 25% of my score. I felt good walking in swim, I felt stronger and more confident than I did during the Miss DC pageant. Another thing I worked hard on, leaning out and my posture, I grew .5 an inch (thank you Fitness Together)! Once everyone went through, it was evening gown time, my absolute favorite. I had on a one of a kind Juan Carlos Pinera gown. I felt amazing in this gown, feminine, strong, confident. One of my favorite gowns I’ve worn. Similar set up as swim in terms of the model posing. I remember half way through to slow down and not walk as fast as I did in swim. Overall I felt good, I felt confident. Once gown portion was completed, we all got into our costumes and did a parade, introducing ourselves and a quick blurb about our costumes. My costume was the First Lady “representing all the strong women who have hosted the White House.”. When prelims were finished, I felt I put everything I had on that stage. There wasn’t anything left for me to do, to regret, I knew I brought the best package I’ve ever had. I knew, no matter the outcome, I was me.

The next morning I woke up in anticipation that today could be the day I am given a new title. Interview and Prelims were to solidify the top 15, once they were announced, all scores were wiped clean and all that mattered was going from top 15 (swim and gown were judged), to top 6 (on stage question), to top 3 (on stage question), then the first Miss for America would be crowned. At the start of finals, we still didn’t know who the top 15 were but I felt very good about prelims and interview. We were backstage for a while and I spent the time visualizing, calming my nerves, going through what I would say should I make top 6 and top 3, and trying not to think about the dance number. Finals started out with the parade of costumes, all 50 of us walking around, getting in order to say our quick blurb, then all coming back out on stage for costume awards. There were so many unique ones! Next, we changed into our fringe dresses to introduce ourselves and carry the American Flag. We took our places on the platform and went straight into awards for both publication and congeniality. They called my name as winner of the publication award!!! I am beyond thankful to have received this award as I didn’t just win this by myself, I attribute it to all my sponsors and partners who helped me get there. It was such a proud moment for me, I couldn’t stop smiling. Then we went into the dance number… I know this was video taped – it is on my Miss DC Facebook page under videos, I haven’t had the guts to watch it… so if you do let me know how I did (on a scale of full on Elaine to mostly Elaine). We then changed into swim where they would announce photogenic, fitness and the long awaited top 15. As I stood there, I was smiling and in my head repeating “next finalist is… miss dc, miss dc”. As the names (that weren’t mine) continued to be called, I kept smiling and thinking just say “miss dc” already!!! Unfortunately, my name wasn’t called for top 15. Walking off stage I was bummed but I knew I had given it everything I had and that was something to smile and be proud of. I wasn’t what the judges were looking for but having spent the week with all these ladies, they had a lot of amazing women to choose from. In the end Miss Tennessee, Kassie Perkins, is our first Miss for America! She was sweet and gracious and I have no doubt she will be an amazing queen!

While I didn’t come away with the crown, I am so proud of my accomplishments. Something I never thought I’d be able to do, on stage at a national pageant, representing the area I grew up in. I came away with an award, with friends, new experience and stand tall as the first Miss District of Columbia for America. I am blogging about my experience, even areas I would otherwise not write or admit. This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

My title is not over, I still have the crown until April and I intend to take full advantage of utilizing it to give back and help make this world a better place.

I want to thank my friends and family who have supported me throughout this process. I know I come up with random goals more often than not and am so thankful for your love and support. My partners and sponsors who not only have shared their talents with me to help me become the woman I am meant to be but who have become good friends in the process.

Where it started, Raquel (An Officer and a Gentlewoman) the director of the Miss DC for America pageant, thank you for providing me the platform to compete in pageantry. Miss DC for America judges for believing in me to represent the district as the first Miss DC for America. Sponsors: Marta (MB Face Design), for always making sure my tan was perfect for the week leading up to prelims as well as makeup for events. Stephanie (Babe Cave), for making sure my hair was in tip top shape going into the week. Stacy and Enrico (Fitness Together), for helping me grow and be even more confident in swim wear and overall life. Juan Carlos and Cesar (Juan Carlos Pinera), for the amazing outfits all week, including Elvis suite jumpsuit, dignitary dinner gown, interview dress and stage gown. Joanne, Kirsten and everyone at Dejavu for the rest of my outfits nationals week, every one I put on I loved more than the one before. Esteban (Pageant Design), for the amazing ad pages that were in the book, you helped transform my pictures into the story I wanted each of them to tell. Julie, mamma bear, chief of staff, fashion expert – your guidance the last year has been invaluable, from my pageant walk, my posture, my wardrobe, my overall image and making sure I had the best week, all while you were competing. Nikki, my Mrs, you have been a shining light and I am so glad I have been able to go through this experience with you! Toni, (Toni Yvette Barber & Makeup Artist), my makeup/hair artist of the week, you have so much talent, it’s incredible. You kept me sane in what could have been a very stressful week. From your smiling face, our random deep conversations early in the morning while doing my hair, to making sure I looked my best and running out to get whatever I needed. You’ve helped and inspired me in so many ways. Mr and Mrs Mariel, thank you for starting the Miss division, the opportunity to be part of the Mrs America family before I’m married. The staff of Miss for America/Mrs America, Tana, Caroline, Frit and Frat, thank you for an incredible week. My new sash queens, Laney, Trish, Jory, Aida, Kelsey, Alana, Misti, Georgia, Daphne, Suzette, Levanna, Kinsley, Monica, Jaci, Erica, Deveney, Laura, Mikayla, Megan, Chloe, Jenna, Ashley, Kristy, Tanajsia, Kara, Olivia, Marlin, Abigail, Courtney, Trinity, Leah, Emily, Jessie, Gabie, Heather, Mindy, Katie, Kassie, Ba’Leigh, Amber, Keiran, Salem, Brandi, Danielle, Kaycee, Krista, Devyn, Heather, and Steffine. I don’t think we could have had a better inaugural class. I learned so much from y’all, you have inspired me in many ways and allowed me to be me during nationals week. I am excited to see the impact each of you continue to make. Kassie, congratulations on becoming the first Miss for America! Next year’s queens have some big shoes to fill!

I would be remiss without ending with a little plug-in, if this blog inspired you and you are a single lady over the age of 18, live/work within a 25 mile radius of DC, we are now taking applications. If you happen to be married, over the age of 18 and live/work within a 25 mile radius, Mrs DC is taking applications too. Comment below, shoot me an email or visit Miss DC for America/Mrs DC America website!

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