Yesterday, I woke up with a crown on my head.

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Okay, that’s not entirely true. Yesterday, I woke up at 6:30 AM, groaned, turned in for another hour and a half, was awakened by the promise of doughnuts for breakfast, and decided I wanted to take this picture. A little help from my mom and a few “candid” sleeping shots later…and, there we have it!

Hello, my name is Jeanette Morelan, and I am your new Miss Nashville.

The Miss America Organization has always held a special place in my heart. It was a yearly tradition for the girls in our house to gather around the television with bright eyes as those members of the male persuasion grumbled at their loss of the television and sought to amuse themselves with other pursuits. Year after year, I was amazed by these extraordinary, outspoken, passionate women who seemed to do everything with poise and grace.

In 2009, I was speaking at an oratorical contest for Optimist International when one of the members approached me about a potential scholarship opportunity that would be a good fit for my speaking skills and commitment to service. I somehow found myself in the pageant “realm” without being totally cognizant of what I was doing. One thing led to another, and I found myself at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in Orlando, Florida. It was only then that the reality of the extraordinary opportunity in front of me struck. At fourteen, thousands of dollars of scholarships, hundreds of potential service opportunities and speaking engagements, and the opportunity to represent an organization that had inspired the little girl in me to stand just a little taller lay ahead of me.

God works in mysterious ways. Through no doing of my own, I was chosen to serve as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. So began my face-to-face relationship with an organization that has changed my life in more ways than I could imagine. It’s the relationship that has brought me to where I am today, sitting in the office I work at here at Belmont, still struggling to understand the weight of the privilege and responsibility that I have been entrusted with.

Thankfully, I am not in this alone.

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To my family—thank you for making me the woman I am today. Your support and encouragement of my dreams has meant the world. And to my mom—you are the embodiment of what it means to lead by serving. I hope I can follow in your footsteps this year.

To my friends—seeing you at the pageant on Sunday was a dream come true. Although 95% of you probably didn’t have a clue what was going on, you know me, and your support means the world. Sarah Ellis, you actually DID know what was going on, and thank you for being my life coach/mentor when I needed it the most.

To Miss America’s Outstanding Teen—thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn what being a part of this organization means 365 days a year. It’s an honor to continue to represent you in this capacity and I will do my utmost best in that respect.

To my Wisconsin pageant family—thank you for supporting me in this next phase of my journey. I love you all so dearly and will continue to hold my love of my state (and cheese curds!) in this next exciting chapter. You are all extraordinary people.

To Paige Dennis of Joann’s—I walked into your store with a college girl budget and Miss America sized dreams, and somehow, you made magic happen. Thank you for dressing me so beautifully. You made me feel like royalty!

To Scott Hilburn and the Miss Nashville Organization—I can’t promise that I’ll be a perfect representative, but I can promise that I will serve this organization with a full heart. Thank you for entrusting me with this opportunity and for believing in my dream.

To God—your timing is perfect. Thank you for working in me and through me even when I’m not aware of it. May you be glorified through every moment this year.

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I could not be more excited for the next year and the ways it will shape me. Feel free to follow along on the blog for details of my adventures and on social media with the hashtag #TheAdventuresofMissNashville (because, hashtags are everything).

Here’s to new and blessed beginnings.

Jeanette

 

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