Speaking of graduation, I'm getting really excited about it. For those of you just tuning in, I will be representing my class as the student speaker for the university's winter commencement ceremony in December. I have been working hard at revising my speech, and the university has paired me up with an amazing communications coach. His name is Professor Storey (actually, that's what I call him, I'm sure his first name is not really Professor), and he is a retired Emeritus professor from U of M's Communications Department. We met for the first time a few weeks ago, and the first thing Prof. Storey wanted from me was my answer to this question: Who are you really? This is certainly not a typical opening question for a first introduction, and despite the fact that I wasn't sure how to answer it, I liked that he wanted to know where I am coming from before ever hearing my speech. Anyway, I told him about the series of events that led to my being there that day and then went on to tell him about my future plans. I wondered what this old man was going to think of a young Miss America hopeful and was disappointed when he had nothing to say on the topic. My assumption was that he didn't think much of it, and we moved forward with our conversation.
Later on I asked him if he would mind answering the same question, and he walked me through his life's history, part of which included a period of time in the Coast Guard in Atlantic City. I knew that anyone who was in AC in the 1940s had to have something to say about the Miss America pageant, and I was right. He said to me, "I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I was in the Miss America pageant." Apparently, the producers of the 1945 Miss America pageant had planned a nautical-themed production number. They chose four sailors to be a part of the show doing a song and dance routine and helping contestants into the chariots that wheeled them across the stage for their SS
competition (could you imagine?!?). I couldn't believe that this man had been a part of one of the most important pageants in Miss America history. Bess Meyerson won that year. Being the first Jewish woman to win Miss A right after WWII was a big deal, not to mention the fact that she was the first scholarship winner. As soon as I got home, I immediately searched the Internet for photos from that show, and I started reading about some of the Miss As from that era. These women are truly amazing, and as I learned about them I started to realize what a huge part of American history this program is. The fact that I am a part of an organization with such deep roots is really exciting, yet humbling at the same time.
Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to Miss Heart due to a lack of gas money and an aversion to driving alone (but a big congratulations to all of the women who competed, especially to those of you I have the privilege of calling my friends). Instead, I attended an etiquette dinner put on by the Golden Key honor society, and all I can say is whoa! It's hard to imagine anyone caring so much about whether or not you switch your fork back to your dominant hand after cutting a piece of food, but at least now I know what is "proper." Want to test your skills??? True or false, you should place your napkin on your lap within ten seconds of sitting down at the table?
On the 11th, I attended a conference put on by the Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) on public policy leadership. I had the privilege of meeting some Detroit dignitaries including State Senator Buzz Thomas. We also heard from community development expert, Marva Smith Battle Bey, who gave a touching account of her relationship with Rosa Parks. I learned a lot about a Detroit initiative to bridge the digital divide in the city, which is closely related to some work I've been doing in one of my courses. It's always exciting to hear about unconventional approaches to community revitalization. The conference was a big success, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. Thank you to LISC for organizing this event for the community.
Finally, I had the privilege of riding in the Wyandotte Holiday Parade last Saturday morning. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and I enjoyed rolling down the street sporting my faux fur shall and rocking out to Christmas favorites with by fabulous chauffeur, Sheila. I really liked seeing all the little kids bundled up tight in their snow suits trying to wave to me. It reminded me of that kid in A Christmas Story. Octavia was also in the parade a couple cars ahead of me, and she looked amazing. I've been lucky to have had some extra time with Octavia since she's been invited back to many of the appearances she
made as Miss Wayne last year. We're really lucky to have her, and I can't wait to cheer her on at Miss America in VEGAS!!!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I think it's appropriate to mention *some* of the things I am grateful for this year...
- The new friendships I have made this semester
- The generosity of my parents in supporting me through school
- My close relationship with my sister
- Sheila (and her family for sharing her with me)
- The many, many doors that God has magically opened for me in the past few months
- A renewed passion for music
- Freedom to decide which dream to chase and when
- My US Passport (really, I learned to appreciate this during my summer travels)
World peace and all that good stuff,