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