Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Week Full of Memories


It was Monday, July 16th when I arrived with my directors to Skokie, IL., feeling very calm, relaxed and thrilled to get the show on the road and participate in the Mrs. International pageant!  However, Tuesday morning I felt much different. As soon as I awoke I began questioning myself and the reason I was there. “What am I doing here? Am I right for this competition? What do I do!?” All of this seemed almost foreign to me. But thankfully, all of my concerns were put to ease the moment I began making connections with the other contestants. I realized at orientation that this was going to be a week of purpose, memories, prayer and an incredible amount of affirmation.  Nearly immediately, I was blessed to become friends with the other contestants while touring Chicago on a fairy, eating meals, and of course rehearsing for hours.

Time flew by, it was Thursday already and the private interviews were first on the judge’s list. As experienced at the state pageant, I was honored to be a part of a system that openly shares a strong faith.  I held hands with my director Allison while she gave a personal, encouraging prayer. This was followed by our interview group holding hands in the same manner while the national director Mary Richardson lead another meaningful prayer. God was with me and I walked in the interview room more excited than anything. I was excited to share the content of why I was there and the meaning behind my Mrs. North Dakota International crown. I discussed the sole purpose why I entered the state pageant in the first place, which was to educate others about the importance of teaching their children, empower parents to be involved in their child’s life through personal interaction and raise awareness about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

It felt like I blinked and it was already time to announce the Top 16. My heart was beating fast with anticipation, but I smiled to my family in the audience. I knew I gave everything 110%, from pouring out my heart and passion in the private interviews, dancing to the incredibly fun opening number, strutting my stuff in the fitness round in prelims, to the moment I shared with my handsome husband onstage for evening gown. I did not hear my name being called but watched as the amazing women who made Top 16 walked toward the front of the stage. What a phenomenal accomplishment and all were extremely deserving to move on to finals. I was proud to stand behind women who have such inspiring and personal stories, which motivated them to promote powerful platforms, and are already making a difference in the lives of so many nationally and internationally. A big congratulations to my roommate Mrs. Minnesota Sarah Bazey who was crowned as our Mrs. International 2012. I believe that the perfect Mrs. was chosen. She is the definition of strength, inspiration and beauty and I am looking forward to hearing about the many lives she will touch during her reign.

When looking back at the week, I can’t help but say that one of my favorite memories was sharing this experience with my family and close friends who were able to make it. They were the most positive supportive system anyone could ask for. Although they were there for me, their enthusiasm and support for others showed as they cheered on many of the contestants onstage, captured pictures with them and shared their love through many hugs and conversations. I felt that not only did the contestants get to know me, but I was so proud to show off my family and friends so others were able to see a glimpse of how blessed I am. Thank you so much for being there and thank you to all of you here at home who showed your support through texts, phone calls, letters, messages and genuine excitement. I am so blessed!

Although I did not walk away from last week as Mrs. International 2012, I left with invaluable memories, wonderful friends from around the world and experiences that I know I would have never gotten the chance to experience.  And along the way, I was able to bring more awareness and education to others about my organization, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. I can honestly say that this experience is going down in my history books as one of the most incredible times of my life. I have absolutely no regrets as I know that through everything I stayed true to all that I stand for and represented myself, my family, the state of North Dakota the best I knew how.

Forever yours as Mrs. North Dakota International 2012,
Ashley Voigt

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