New Surroundings

It has been a fun yet crazy week for Miss Idaho! Last Monday, I had the opportunity to speak at an anti-bullying assembly in St. Anthony at South Fremont Junior High. A fellow contestant and friend from Miss Idaho 2011, Makenzie Stevens, recruited me to help out, since her older sister Mikaela was spear-heading the event. For a senior project, Mikaela, along with the BYU-Idaho public relations students decided to plan this assembly and a whole week of activities focused on anti-bullying for the students at South Fremont.

When Mikaela first asked me to speak and share my own experiences with bullying, I thought, “What in the world am I going to say?” I never had anyone physically push me over or threaten to beat me up. But then I realized that the majority of bullying cases are not physical, but social and emotional. When I was in 6th grade, I not only had braces, but a contraption similar to headgear to fix my jaw. It was called the Herbst appliance, and it irritated my mouth so badly that I had huge sores in my cheeks and my face swelled like a balloon. All of the sixth grade boys in my class called me names like “squirrel face” and “chubby chipmunk cheeks.” As I look back on it now, it’s funny, but when you’re an insecure 6th grade girl, those things can really hurt! After remembering that experience, I actually thought of quite a few other cases where I was bullied in Junior High and High School. Whether it was the mean girls that put me down with their rude sarcasm, stole my things and turned other friends against me with their rumors, or the emotionally abusive boyfriend that said I was no good without him, I was bullied. Thank goodness I have always had such supportive parents and family to lift me up and help me through those experiences.

Speaking at South Fremont reminded me how regularly bullying occurs, especially in schools. To all those who have felt bullied, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, remove yourself from the situation if possible, or ask for help. Surround yourself with others who will lift you up and empower you. Most importantly, don’t ever let someone else define you or influence your self-confidence. God created each of us to be unique, beautiful individuals. Embrace and love yourself for who you are! J This is also a good reminder to everyone to watch our words and actions, that they are only positive and uplifting to others around us.

After speaking to the Junior High students on Monday, I spoke to a group of 4th graders at Sunnyside Elementary in Idaho Falls on Tuesday. I played the piano and spoke to the group about goal setting and perseverance, and used stories from my Miss Idaho and Miss America journeys to illustrate how we can overcome any obstacles that may stand in our way. I LOVE those elementary kids! Spending time with them is definitely one of the sweetest parts of this job. There was a little boy named Alex who kept running over to give me hugs, wanting to pose for more pictures, and even asking for my autograph. I don’t have any pictures to post right now, but I’m hoping to get some of the photos back from the teacher soon! J

Wednesday made for a busy day moving back down to Provo, Utah to start 2nd block classes at Brigham Young University. Man is that scholarship money useful!!!! I am so grateful to the Miss Idaho Falls, Miss Idaho, and Miss America Organizations that work so hard to fundraise scholarship money to empower women like myself to seek higher education. I plan to get my Bachelor’s in Public Relations with a Marketing Minor. Since I’ve been here since Wednesday, I can already see a difference in myself from April 2012 when I was last in school. All of the public speaking, walking into appearances with unfamiliar surroundings, and emotional stamina that I’ve learned as Miss Idaho is definitely translating over; I am much more confident on a college campus and in seeking employment than I was before Miss Idaho. My many trips from Idaho Falls to Boise also makes the shorter drive to Provo seem like a piece of cake. ;) I am excited to jump back into college life and see where my studies take me!

A huge congratulations is order for HannahSarah Davis, 1st Runner Up at Miss Canyon County this weekend, and Kacie Bitzenburg who took home the crown! These ladies are absolutely incredible, and are responsible for adding to the high quality of the Miss Idaho Organization. After competing at nationals, I can conclude that Idaho is home to some of the sweetest, most talented, smart, and down-to-earth women in the nation, and I feel so blessed to have become friends with these ladies like HannahSarah and Kacie.

See you all at Miss Rexburg this Saturday!

Whitney Wood
Miss Idaho 2012

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