Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Dreamed A Dream

Yes, I know, I was quite the fashionista.

Getting a happy meal was always something I really looked forward to as a child, and even sometimes now as an adult :o) However, there were many times I was completely boggled by the drastic difference between the people at my drive-thru window, and the people in the drive-thru windows on the commercials. Needless to say, many of the times the people in my drive-thru window were not "bah-duh-bah-bah-baaah lovin' it". I would say to my mom, "Mommy, you know what my dream is? I want to be the first person to work at a real McDonalds and smile at all of my customers!" Perhaps it was a silly gesture from the mind of an innocent and naive child, but it was something I had seriously contemplated. Sure enough, when I turned 16, I was still holding on to my dream and I got my first job at McDonalds on North Veterans Parkway in Columbus, GA. I did just what I set out to do. I smiled at every customer. Even the grumpy old guy who came in every morning for a "senior coffee. black. 2 packs of the pink" and insisted on slinging his change on the counter...EVERY MORNING. I smiled at him, every morning. Working at McDonald's was a job I loved, sometimes hated, but loved. I loved the people I worked with...well, most of them. I loved the fast pace, hands-on environment. I loved that I knew how to work every position in the store. I loved my customers...well, most of them :o) I loved mostly everything about that job, except for working on the fry station. Anywho...I said all of that to say this:

I believe I was more serious about the "dream" of being a happy McDonald's employee than I was of the dream I had of being the first African-American female president, a famous country singer, or a cow. Yes, I had quite a few dreams as a child, some a little less realistic than others...okay, ONE less realistic than the others, but the point is this... I have always been one to see something that is a rarity or just hasn't been done and dreamed of ways to do it. I knew other kids dreamed of being president, a country singer, or a cow. What other kids were going to seriously dream of working at McDonalds??? It was something that I held onto for years. And I remember telling people about that dream as I was growing up, and people looking at me and saying "By the time you're able to work, trust me, you won't be thinking about McDonalds." Hmph, they were wrong. Not only was it my first job, but I chose to work there over those next 5 years of my life! I made some good friends, actually met my best friend there. Learned a lot of skills there that I still use to this day. And put a lot of smiles on a lot of people's faces...mission accomplished.

Apparently, I/Kentucky was notorious
for wearing flats to visitation. I was not feet hurt!
During an interview I had while at Miss America, I was asked, "How long have you wanted to be Miss  America? Did you dream of it as a child?" I responded "I can remember watching the Miss America Pageant as a child and admiring the young women I saw. I always thought it was pretty cool, but being Miss America was not something I desired to do as a child. I never dreamed of being Miss America until about two years ago when I was watching the pageant with my best friend and told her, "Hey, I really think I could do that." My best friend looked at me and said "Well, just do it." And thus, a dream was born, and here I am, "just doing it". While being Miss America has not been a lifelong dream of mine, I have always had the desire to put a smile on  person's face. I have always had the desire to inspire others. I have always had the desire to push myself to be extraordinary. These desires have manifested themselves through different dreams and adventures on which I have chosen to embark in my life. And throughout every dream, every adventure, every success, and every failure, I have learned that humility is the key to learning and advancing in every experience.
On the final night of the Miss America Pageant, I could not help but to find myself overwhelmed by the excitement and element of surprise that came with the announcement of each semi-finalist! It was such a rush because I had not even TRIED to make a semi-finalist list in my head or anything before the final night. When girls would ask me who I thought would be in the top, I would give them my honest answer "Honey, I don't know, because these judges are hard to read and I really haven't been paying attention to any of the other contestants as far as competition goes." One girl said, "Oh Kentucky, you're no fun!" I just laughed...I was trying to find all the time I could to rest and sleep, not worry about who would make "the cut" and who wouldn't.

When my name had not been called for the top 11, I found myself trying to feel disappointed. I was very confident that I had been strong and consistent throughout the week, was I really not in the judges top scores???  However, there was still a peace and calm that resided in me, something inside of me that said "Djuan Trent, don't sweat it." I told myself, "Okay, I won't sweat it." I already knew we would be voting for a contestants choice because I saw the pens piled up on a table backstage. I pointed out the pens to the other girls and said, "I hope y'all are thinking about who you want for contestants choice because I'm pretty sure we'll be voting for one." I already knew who I was voting for! So when Brooke told us her "special announcement" I was not at all surprised by it. However, what I was surprised  when I heard, "Semi-finalist 14 is...Miss Kentucky, Djuan Trent!" WHAT?!? Oh my Lord...I was speechless. I just didn't even know what to do with myself...I turned and hugged Adrianne...or North Carolina...I wanted to go around and hug all the girls, I turned to them and said, "Y'all!!! Wow...I love y'all Thank you!" and one of the girls said, "Go! Go down on the stage!" I suppose I had lost myself in the moment at that point because I wanted to give all of the girls a big hug and I probably would have had I not been reminded that we were on live television. We were hurried off to the back to get into our swimsuits. When we were dressed and backstage ready to go, I stood there thinking to myself, " least I get to show off my hot buns." Thinking that because I was a contestant's choice, I wouldn't advance to the next phase of competition. Before we went out, some of the non-finalist walked by, to include my forever friend Pauli, aka, Miss Iowa. I could see that she was trying so hard to hold the tears back. She's a strong young woman. She is. But, I knew that this was something she wanted so badly...she had worked so hard for it...half of the state of Iowa was there to see her. I pulled her to me, I said "Pauli. This is for you. I know I'll probably only get to do swimsuit, so these buns are for all of y'all, and I'm going to do my best swimsuit walk ever tonight." And she looked at me, I could see the tears, I said, "Pauli. You are strong. And I love you." She stuffed her doughnut in her mouth and said, "I know. Make us proud." So...I showed off my buns on national television and was excited to do it. But the night just kept getting better and better. I continued to advance in the competition! I guess the judges really did like me :o) After I advanced from swimsuit to evening gown, I gave myself a quick meaningful pep-talk in the midst of hairspraying my hair up into a bun, and it went a little something like this: "Djuan Trent, this is not about you. This is about 38 other young women who could be doing this right now. Let's do it." I felt like a power ranger (the yellow one), and it really was MORPHIN TIME!  When it got down to talent and I was sitting on that bench...a lot of people thought I was in some weird deep pageant concentration mode for my talent, but really I was just drinking my water (like it was going out of style) and praying, "Dear Lord, please let me do my talent. I just want TeTe and Sarge to see/hear me." Now, I suppose I should clarify at this point, my grandparents (TeTe and Sarge) did NOT write that song. As far as I know, that song was originally written and recorded by the late Sam Cooke. My grandfather loves Sam Cooke, and he used to sing "Change Gone Come" to me all the time when I was growing up. When it came time for me to pick a song for my talent for Miss America, I chose to sing that song because I knew my grandparents would not be able to make it to Vegas for the pageant, and I wanted to be able to somehow connect with them during the pageant. So, I chose that song. I dedicated that performance to my grandparents, and I sang it with all of my heart. I know my grandfather had to pull out his handkerchief  when he heard me sing, and I know my grandmother said to him, "Look at our little Scooter, seems like just yesterday...and now she's all grown up, but she's still the baby." That was all I wanted. And I got it. Thank you God for your guidance. Thank you to my fellow contestants for each being beautifully you. Thank you Miss America Organization for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you Miss Kentucky Board for believing in me and laughing with me. Thank you to my amazing family, friends, and supporters. Thank you everyone for every facebook message, friend request, poke, wall post, tweet, dm...all of the social networking love...THANK YOU! And thank you Djuan, for never ceasing to follow your heart. I am so happy and proud of myself!!! And I say that in the most non-narsacistic way, really. The most consistent word of advice I receieved from any Miss Kentucky or Miss America going into this was, "Take a moment to step back and take it all in, and really enjoy yourself." And that is just what I did. And I loved it! See 11 days spent out there in Vegas are not about a's about the experience and memories you will take away from it, whether you leave as Miss America or Miss essence, you are both. It's about the friendships you develop, the jokes you make, the pictures you crash (or maybe that's just me), the 87 times you have to go back and forth to your room at the end of the hallway because you forgot your crown or sash for's about the stories you bring back with you to share...the experience that you will always have. Now I get to resume my duties here in Kentucky, of being Miss America to every person that I have inspired and will inspire in some way.
If I have learned nothing else from this experience, I've learned that being Miss America/Kentucky is not about the crown you wear on your head, it's about the crown you wear in your heart. Miss America is not just something you win, it is who you are.

Congratulations to Ms. Teresa Scanlan, she is such a sweetie and I wish her all the best as she has already hit the ground running as our Miss America 2011 :o)

And now for your viewing pleasure...

I love my mommy!

Ms. Kim and me on the plane!!!

This was our icecream truck taxi when we got to Vegas, haha!

That's a super tall short stack!

Ready for whatever!
We are women on  a mission!

Hawaii!!! I got lei'd :o)

Won't you take me to funky town!!!

Headed to In-n-Out Burger with my
hairdresser, Rebecca and Miss Kentucky Contestant, Shaina!

As always, there are more pics on facebook! Hope you enjoyed my bout of somewhat witty banter...thanks for tuning in!!!


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