From Her Perspective

In Lola Shreveport by Lola Magazine

Hearing your name announced as the new Miss Louisiana is an exhilarating experience, but it’s the thousands of experiences following that single crowning moment that make the title life-changing in more ways than imaginable. My days as Miss Louisiana 2016 include responsibilities beyond wearing the crown and sash, with many appearances asking me to speak about my platform or entertain on the piano. I have visited hospitals for the Children’s Miracle Network, attended fitness meets for the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and even emceed a Mardi Gras Ball for one of our parishes. While my schedule can differ drastically from day to day, the common thread in each appearance is the opportunity to connect with people across Louisiana.

Some of my most memorable appearances as Miss Louisiana are tied to my platform, which focuses on promoting positive mental health. At the beginning of my year, I created a school program centered around confidence and self-worth that would teach elementary students simple confidence-building skills to use throughout their lives. Relying on my experiences of competing in Miss Louisiana and Miss America—in addition to my collegiate involvement in mental health outreach groups—I guide students in finding their confidence through their voice and body language. Additionally, I lead them through exercises that can help them on their “bad” days, such as deep breathing (“belly breathers”) and stretching (“yoga bear exercises”). These confidence-building tools, though simple, are skills I use every day to care for my own health and wellbeing. As Miss Louisiana, my hope is to use this platform to help others feel a little more confident and worthy in their own selves, as well.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’m truly making an impact and if my voice and passion reach the students who hear me speak, especially when I’m only given an hour to talk at each school. Following one long week of school visits, however, I was forwarded a message from the parent of a child who heard me speak; and what I didn’t realize when I was at that child’s school was that she was struggling with her family life, having a difficult time making friends at school, and her bad days were almost every day. When I learned from the parent that this girl went home feeling good about herself and that my words had truly resonated with her, I began to genuinely understand the meaning of being Miss Louisiana.

I will never know the number of people whose lives I might be influencing at one time, but whether it’s one person or a hundred, it is my job as Miss Louisiana to create those special moments. School visits are only one example of the paths I have created to make an impact with this title. This year I have been to hospitals to meet children and veterans, I have spoken to aspiring high-schoolers about the importance of STEM, and I have simply exchanged stories with humans going about their daily lives. As Miss Louisiana, I have challenged myself to create as many influential encounters as possible in the time span of one year, all while growing and learning myself. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the Miss Louisiana Organization, which has not only given me a voice in the Louisiana communities, but also provided me with scholarships to further my education. Most of all, I’m thankful for the empowering young women I have come to know through Miss Louisiana and Miss America, and this sisterhood of women who uplift and inspire one another to continue making a positive difference.