Someday, when I have a few more wrinkles and wisps of white in my hair, I know I’ll look back at these photos and show them to my grandchildren.
And I’ll share with them a few memories from the time long ago when I competed at the 100th Anniversary Competition of Miss America — as a part of the most incredible class of inspiring women.
I’ll tell them how proud I was to wear North Dakota boldly across my chest.
And about how radiant I felt, and how that is a perfectly fine feeling to experience — in fact, everyone should feel that way in life.
And most importantly, I’ll remind and encourage those kiddos to chase after their dreams - both the big and the small - because you never know where those dreams might take you.
They might even bring you to the Miss America stage.
I had three simple goals upon arriving at Miss America:
Or, in other words:
💫 Give my very best (both on the stage and off).
💫 Cultivate lifelong friendships.
💫 Spread joy.
Beyond these goals, I didn’t expect much else. Of course, it would have been amazing to make it into the Top Ten. However, my worth was never dependent on my placement, and I felt honored to be standing there amidst a class of talented, hardworking, and deserving women.
Before I left, my friend Kristian Eikevik prayed over me and shared that he was praying for “Ruthless Joy,” and those words were on my heart the entire week.
I wrote these words the night that Emma was crowned the 100th Miss America:
“Ruthless J O Y. 💫
So many more words and stories to come, but for now I’m simply feeling overwhelmed by love and thankfulness. I will undoubtedly remember this day fondly for the rest of my life. What an honor, privilege, and blessing this journey has been.
Here’s to another century of empowering and equipping America’s women to be the leaders of today and tomorrow. This is only the beginning.”
What will I remember from my Miss America experience?
1. My class. They are truly a phenomenal group of women and were hands down the BEST part of the entire experience. They are real, inclusive, hardworking, talented, motivated, passionate, kind, with the biggest most genuine hearts. I am forever inspired by them.
2. Watching Emma Broyles, Miss Alaska, crowned as Miss America. That was a surreal experience and I had chills covering my entire body. Running forward to hug her… I remember looking up as our entire class had circled her and she was about a foot away from me. Her eyes were massive - like a deer in the headlights - and I wondered if she was going to be okay. (Good news, she is indeed okay and thriving in her new role. I'm super proud of her.)
3. Of course, there were a few stressful parts throughout the week. (These moments *do not* overshadow the good parts — just being real.)
I remember feeling frustrated after finals because we quickly had to pack up all of our things and were rushed out. Talk about adding stress to an already stressful experience (not necessary). The backstage dressing room for finals was also TINY — we were literally on top of each other. I sat between Sapna (Miss CT) and Vivian (Miss MI) and were were literally bumping elbows the entire time. Good thing we could laugh about it, hah. I also remember feeling super stressed trying to memorize my pitch the day of competition. (*Note to our future Miss North Dakota or anyone competing: do not wait until the last minute to rewrite your pitch and memorize it.)
Looking back, I am beyond grateful for my Miss America experience. Sure, it wasn’t perfect. But then again, perfection is rarely guaranteed in this life. Undoubtedly, there is room for improvement going into next year’s competition, but as for myself, I’m choosing not to dwell on the “what could have beens or should have beens” but instead am choosing to look back and remember with joy and gratefulness.
I remember distinctly thinking during the afternoon of finals of Thursday, December 16: "I want to look back at this day with joy, to remember it fondly and as one of the best days of my life."
I can proudly and happily say that I know I will be able to do just that.
Below are a few social posts that I shared during my time in Connecticut.
“Ruthless j o y. 💫
That’s what I’ve been trying to channel this entire week, and my main goal heading into the interview room this morning was to focus that positive energy (and perhaps some Star Wars vibes 😉) and be 100% authentically me. For a fast ten minutes, I talked with an incredible panel about why I should be the next Miss America. I shared why I believe our nation needs a Miss America who is approachable, relatable, and real and a figure who will connect people in a time when we need connection more than ever before.
And… why I believe I could be that woman. 🥰
Thank you for all of the kind messages of encouragement, love, and prayers. I am so proud and humbled to be representing North Dakota and to have this opportunity of a lifetime. ❤️
Miss America Interview ✔️🇺🇸”
“Forever honored to have this moment in time where I get to wear North Dakota boldly across my chest. North Dakota, I hope to make you proud tonight. To my entire village, thank you for loving on me and supporting me every step of the way.
In just a couple of hours, the 100th Miss America will be crowned.
Thy Will be Done.”
I am forever grateful for this experience. While I'm continuing to process and reflect, I know without a doubt that this experience reminded me of the importance and impact of having community, and that was undoubtedly the best part: feeling surrounded by my incredible family and friends — both new and old.
Here's to another century of empowering and equipping women with tools for success, impact, and love.
is currently living life one day at a time in Moorhead, MN where she works on the Marketing Team at Concordia College.