Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crowning Moments!!!

Happy Holidays!! I hope everyone is enjoying their time off from school and/or work. I know I’m super pumped to have a week off to enjoy with my family and friends. In case you don’t already know, my name is Olivia Naylor, and as of December 3rd I am your new Miss Teen ND International!! The feeling has finally started to sink in, and the initial shock has slowly worn off. That’s not to say that every emotion I felt that night can’t be recalled, because at any given time I can think back to that night and vividly remember my crowning moment. I was standing in a line at the front of the stage, along with eight other lovely ladies. I remember hearing the announcer reveal the first and second runners up, and then I remember hearing him announce contestant #4 as your new Miss Teen ND International. I looked around and no one was stepping forward... I then heard someone shout my name from the crowd and another person started ushering me to the front of the stage, where Emily, Stacy, and Shelle proceeded to pin a crown on my head. I was in complete and total shock. I could not believe what was happening. I remember looking out to the audience and locating my family. I could see them all, faces aglow, smiling up at me. I remember so many emotions overcoming me in that one moment. I literally felt as if I was in a dream. Along with those emotions came a sense of realization. It really hit me as I was standing on stage that here I was being handed not only a crown and sash but I was being handed an incredible opportunity to make a difference.

Now that you all have a little insight into what my crowning moment consisted of, I want to take the chance to tell you a little more about myself. I am the big sister to two awesome younger brothers, Logan (15) and Dylan (12). I am currently a senior in High School.  I am very involved in my school. I am a member in multiple clubs and just this past fall I finished up my senior volleyball season. One thing you should know about me is that I like to keep busy; too much free time makes me antsy. This being said, I am so excited to start my duties as Miss Teen ND International. I have no doubt in my mind that this upcoming year is going to be life-changing and I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to represent the state of ND. I have never felt more ready for something in my life, and I am so anxious to start this new chapter.

I will leave you all with a little saying that seems to coincide well with the holiday season. "This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!"

Happy Holidays
Olivia Naylor

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crowning Moments!!!!

The moment that I was announced as the new Miss North Dakota International 2012, time stood still. I had completely forgotten what I was supposed to do if you won! There were so many thoughts going through my mind at that moment. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, it was a wonderful feeling. You see, when I was only in the 6th grade Miss North Dakota came to our school and talked about following your dreams. From that moment on, my dream was to be a positive role model and be Miss North Dakota. This wasn’t my fist pageant, I had competed in a couple others and had disappointment when I didn’t win, but I didn’t let that stop me from pursuing my dreams. I got back up from that disappointment and kept trying. So, when my name was announced that night of December 3rd on that stage, it will be a moment I will never forget; it’s the moment my dream came true.

My name is Erica Lemna and I grew up in a small town called Enderlin, North Dakota. If you don’t know me, you may think I grew up in a normal family but I didn’t. When I was only 10 years only, my mom was diagnosed with a horrible disease called ALS or better known as Lou Gehrig ’s disease. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Patients with ALS eventually become paralyzed and die usually due to respiratory issues. My mom was only given 2-5 years to live, and I can happily say that almost 13 years later she is still here with us today! ALS has affected my life immensely and not only me but my entire family. 

I have supported the ALS association for many years by participating in ALS walks and support groups with my mom. My platform is ALS Awareness and with my title I plan to raise awareness throughout our state and help raise money for families across our state. I know firsthand how ALS affects a family and I want to help other families in our state. 

Currently, I am a college student majoring in nursing. I will graduate in May 2013 with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. I am a member of the Alpha Theta Chapter Delta Gamma. I do a lot of volunteering across my community. When I am not studying or volunteering I love to hang out with my friends, ride 4-wheeler with my brother, snowboard, listen to country music, and hang out with my family!

I am so excited to be the new Miss North Dakota International 2012! I know that I will make our state proud. I am very excited to see the opportunities this year will bring. I am most importantly excited to see the changes I can make for the ALS Association!

Erica Lemna
Miss ND International 2012

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crowning Moments!!!

My name is Ashley Voigt and I am Mrs. North Dakota International 2012! …what?! I still cannot believe the outcome of the incredible weekend. As a first time pageant candidate, I walked into orientation with an open mind and excited heart, not knowing exactly what to expect. I was welcomed right away by the beautiful 2011 title holders and could not be more thrilled to begin the big, two day event. I immediately felt blessed to be involved in such a program that is faith based, organized, and packed with wonderful, loving women. I knew from that moment, I was going to have a memorable weekend. 

The crowning moment was a complete shock to me – for a lack of better words. I was very surprised that my name was called because I was surrounded by such accomplished and beautiful women with such inspirational and personal platforms. I remember looking in the audience filled with excitement and seeing my twin sister jump up from her seat, followed by one of my grandmas. I was reminded at that moment how blessed I am to have the incredible family and friends there to support me and how everything seemed to mean even more when I was able to share this moment with them. My dad was the one person that was unable to make it, as he had an obligation that was scheduled over a year ago. I could count on one hand the number of times my parents have missed an event in my life, so it was difficult for both of us. I wanted to share one of the many special comments my dad wrote to me “Final thought….when your onstage and feeling a bit nervous…remember this…that warm feeling you have in your hand? That is me holding on to my little girl’s hand as she makes me so proud!”  I cannot imagine what life’s successes and failures would mean without the love and involvement of family? 

Now with rested eyes, I look back with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I am so grateful for the lessons I learned, the friendships I made and the constant love and support I felt from my family and friends. I look forward to sharing my platform of how parent involvement is empowering in the life of a child and its importance for communication in the areas of speech and language development. 

I want to end my very first blog by letting you know that I am committed. I have committed my life as a follower of Christ, loving wife to my amazing husband, compassionate Speech-Language Pathologist, and now as your Mrs. North Dakota International. I am thrilled about the upcoming year and cannot wait to share it all with you!

Thank you,
Ashley Voigt

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thank You!

Today I write my last blog for my year as Miss ND International 2011 with a heavy heart but at the same time a smile on my face because I know in a couple days one incredible lady will receive this same opportunity in which her life will be forever changed. It is hard to believe that it has already been a year since I heard the words that would open a whole new chapter in my life. I had won the title of Miss ND International 2011 and to this day no words could ever express how I felt at that exact moment! I remember looking out into the crowd with tears of happiness rolling down my face, at my family and friends who were full of smiles, a few tears, and they all looked at me with such pride. I still cannot help but think that without their endless support I am not entirely sure if I would have been standing up on that stage that very night having a crown placed on my head. The rest of the night seemed to pass by so quickly, I was on cloud nine. It seemed as if nothing could bring me down.  It was not until the next day that it really sunk in that I had won and would be advancing on to the national competition in July, 2011 where I would go on to make the top ten and win the People’s Choice Award. The next year of my life would be solely devoted to representing the State of North Dakota the best that I could by training daily for the national competition, attending a variety of different events, teaming up with the North Dakota American Heart Association to educate and spread awareness, and most importantly continuing my six year journey of combating human trafficking.  

This past year I have truly come to understand how important the little things in life can be, not only for me but for other people as well. I bring this up because at each appearance I made, there was always someone who was willing to share their own personal story with me, whether it was a older war veteran who at a young age witnessed events that we now read about in history books, a little boy that had survived multiple heart surgeries before the age of three, or a little girl who at a young age fell victim to modern day slavery. What amazes me about so many of the people I met was there positive outlook on life. For the little girl, her goal was to someday compete in a pageant, for the war veteran it was keeping the memory of his wife alive. I cannot express how many courageous people I met this past year but I realize that a lot of it would not have been possible without my title. The memories and experiences of this past year have not only made me a stronger more confident person but will stay with me forever. 

I now realize that we all have the power to make a difference, for me I will continue to be an abolitionist against modern day slavery and may possibly start my own non-profit organization in North Dakota. A year ago, I would have never thought that I would be strong enough to do this, but I know now that the sky is the limit and if you want something or truly want to make a change, you need to work hard and never give up hope. On Saturday, I will be giving a formal farewell speech but before I do that I have a few last words I would like to share. Before I end this chapter I want to extend a huge thank you to all of the people in my life that have always believed in me and have stood by me 100% this past year. I hope you know who you are and I just want to tell you that without all of your incredible support I would not have grown to be the person I am today. There were moments when I just needed a good cry, a hug, or some extra words of encouragement and you were all there. 

Besides having an amazing support system, one of the most important things that I learned from this incredible journey is that you have to have faith.  It was Eleanor Roosevelt that said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” As this chapter of my life comes to an end I will continue to have faith and I will continue to follow my dream of making a change in this world when it comes to ending modern day slavery. I know in my heart that the many great experiences and memories I have gained from my year as Miss ND International 2011 will continue to stay with me forever.

Yours truly,
Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Believing in Yourself

Life is full of so many amazing opportunities but essentially it is up to each individual person whether or not they decide to utilize new experiences that may come before them. Anatole France stated, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” I believe that life is what you make of it and if you truly want to make a difference you need to take the risk and fight for what you believe in. This is not always an easy task and in fact it can sometimes take months or even years to see the change you were searching for to happen. As the 2012 North Dakota International Pageant approaches, I wanted to share a few words of encouragement, extend a helping hand, and commend all the contestants that are participating in this year’s competition. Not only will you have the chance to meet many fabulous women but you will get the opportunity to make a difference by presenting a cause that is near and dear to your heart.  

I want to remind the contestants that even though there will only be one official “winner” in each category you are all winners for having the courage to compete and by representing your platform. Not everyone is capable of taking on this challenge, you should be very proud of yourselves. As the pageant is getting closer it is important to stay focused and practice every day in preparation for the competition. Whether it is to practice walking for the on-stage portion of the competition or having mock interviews to enhance your speaking skills, practicing every day even if it is only for a few minutes is key when competing in the North Dakota International Pageant. Confidence is important and on the weekend of the pageant you need to believe that you have done everything that you could to prepare and are ready to give it all that you got. 

There is a reason you are competing, whether it is to share your personal story, inform the judges about a topic that you feel North Dakota needs to take action on, or you are just competing for fun so you can meet some new people. Either way it is important to remember that the weekend of the competition is what you make of it and I can guarantee that after the competition you will walk away having more confidence, new friends, along with memories to last a lifetime. Most importantly, believe in yourself! I have been in your shoes and understand that it can sometimes be easy to lose hope, to feel nervous, and to give up. However, I need you all to remember that no matter what happens you are an amazing, talented person, who is ready and willing to accomplish great things. If you have any questions or just need some extra words of encouragement, please feel free to contact me! My e-mail address is slschaffer1@gmail.com or you can call me at (701)321-1061, I am here for support and wish all of you the best of luck!      
Yours truly,

Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Taking A Risk

Sometimes in life there comes a time where you may be confused, not sure what your next move is going to be. It may be that an opportunity has arrived and you are contemplating moving to a different state, going back to school, or debating whether or not to open up a new business. Whatever the case is, it can leave you feeling confused, excited, anxious, a variety of different emotions that you might have never felt before. This in turn leads to you deciding whether or not you are going to act on these emotions and make a change or ignore them and continue on with your daily activities. The crazy thing about this entire notion is that this particular opportunity may have been before you for years, but yet you refuse to take the risk and accept what may lie ahead of you. 

The reason I bring up this particular topic is because I know people who are currently and have been in this situation before, specifically myself. The one thing I know for sure is that I am very passionate about combating human trafficking but yet I am not sure how to exactly get my point across and continue to make change. The other thing, I know is that I have a voice, a voice that allows me speak against modern day slavery. Now the question for me is how to continue to use these two elements and turn it into a lifelong career. 

These past couple of weeks have been filled with participating in events specifically regarding combating human trafficking such as a meeting with the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force, attending college events and speaking at high schools. All of these amazing opportunities have allowed me to connect with other abolitionists and hear what they have done and are doing regarding the issue of human trafficking. However, even though I have met a variety of different people that have given me some excellent ideas on how to move forward in the future, it was not until the other night that it truly clicked. I was conducting a meeting regarding the topic of public speaking and sharing some key elements to help the group when it comes to giving presentations. At the end of my teaching lesson, two people that I have worked with for the past couple of months pointed out that there are current human trafficking situations happening in an area that I am very familiar with, this would be my chance to step up, go to the area, face the chance of people not listening to me, but not giving up until I got my message across. 

To be honest I was slightly amazed at this comment simply because within five minutes I went from being the teacher to the student. All of these questions and thoughts I have had going into the future seemed to be answered so quickly by two other people, yet the answer never had appeared to be that simple to me. In short, I left the meeting thinking, have my future plans been in front of me this entire time but I seemed to not recognize them?  The answer to this question is …. I still am not sure. I know since that meeting my mind has been racing with many different thoughts; however I am pretty sure I know what I need to do. My point, in life there are going to be situations where we do not always know the answer, and sometimes it takes somebody you are just getting to know to tell you your answer and for you to finally see what you need to do. Regardless of the situation, follow your passion ask yourself what are you truly passionate about? If you could share one message what would it be? Next, follow that passion, if it means going back to school; try it, opening a business; look into it. We are often times so afraid of taking a risk that we refuse to step forward and try. My goal is to take the next step forward, continue to spread my message, and if I get stuck in a rut along the way, to never give up and take the approach that was said by T.S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”     
Yours truly,

Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011