Q: When did you compete?
A: I competed for Miss America 2014 in September 2013.
Q: What was your official Title Holder Name?
A: Miss Arizona 2013.
Q: What are you currently doing?
A: I am a full-time student at Grand Canyon University and plan to graduate this December 2015. Also, I am a country singer-songwriter and wish to pursue this as a career. I am in the process of writing and recording original songs, as well as putting a band together to perform locally. And, of course, I am still training with the one and only, Scott Keppel three times a week. I love living a healthy lifestyle, and Scott continuously reminds me that being mentally healthy is just as important as being physically healthy. I love that as a trainer, Scott encourages me to fuel my body with the proper nutrients it needs, exercise regularly, think positively, and set daily goals that may or may not have to do with fitness. He believes in me and motivates me to be the best version of myself. Thanks for everything, Scott!
Q: How did competing for Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Outstanding America or Miss Teen USA help prepare you for where you are currently at?
A: Miss America was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m so thankful to have had the wonderful opportunity to participate in such a unique and memorable experience. From interviewing to communication skills to networking to self-confidence, I’ve learned it all. I spent hours upon hours preparing for my Miss America interview, which included watching and reading the news, forming opinions on hot topics, thinking quickly on my feet, digging deep into my past to inspire others with my life story of overcoming Tourette Syndrome, and even getting to know myself on a more intimate level. I expanded my communication skills and ability to network through public speaking, media appearances and interviews, and attending a variety of events. My self-esteem grew into loving myself and having the confidence to attend these events. Yes, I am human and have insecurities, but I try my best to focus on the positive and my strengths rather than my weaknesses. Most importantly, I learned to let go and let God. Although I did all I could to prepare for the national pageant, the results of Miss America were completely out of my control. My faith in The Lord grew immensely and I learned to cast my anxiety on Him in times of weakness and uncertainty. All of these tasks required hard work and dedication, and now I am ready to set new goals and chase my dreams!
Q: If you could go back in time, what one thing (or more) would you do different when you competed?
A: As small as this may seem, I would have chosen a different song to sing for talent at Miss America. I loved the song I sang at Miss Arizona (Maybe It Was Memphis by Pam Tillis) because it was fun, upbeat, and fit my personality and vocal range perfectly. I changed my song for Miss America to a slower, more powerful song (Over You by Miranda Lambert, in the style of Cassadee Pope), but didn’t have a connection with the song. As a singer, the most important thing in a performance is to feel the emotions and tell a story, but I didn’t do this with my Miss America song. If I could go back, I would follow my gut and sing “Maybe It Was Memphis”.
Q: What was the best part of your pageant experience? (I know you all want to say my coaching, but don’t feel obligated:) Honestly, whatever it was
A: Changing the lives of others. The photoshoots, glitz and glamour, wearing the crown, and competing at Miss America were all great, but the service aspect of the job was the most rewarding. Visiting children in hospitals, putting smiles on children’s faces with life-threatening illnesses, speaking at schools and making an impact on student’s lives, and mentoring children and families struggling with Tourette Syndrome or similar challenges were the highlights of my pageant career. Being Miss Arizona gave me the opportunity to serve on a nationwide level, and I’m thankful to have made a difference in people’s lives.
Q: What was your least favorite?
A: Giving up my title. I am excited to see what my future has to offer, but it was hard for me to give up my title after dedicating a whole year to Miss Arizona. At least I am Miss Arizona 2013 forever! 🙂
Q: Any inspiring words you would like to pass on to others?
A: Find what YOU are passionate about and pursue it, whether it’s a pageant, going to school, being a teacher, or becoming a doctor. Believe in yourself and embrace who you are as a unique individual. My favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” This verse reminds me that the future is unseen and I need to trust God and have faith in His plans for me.
- Jennifer Smestad, Checkout the program she followed here.