Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Y’all. We are less than four weeks away from Miss Tennessee. I can’t believe that everything is coming together so quickly! Between workouts, voice lessons, meal prep, and alterations appointments, I’m trying to take a few seconds now and then to breathe and appreciate what an honor it truly will be to represent Nashville in Jackson. All of the work has absolutely been worth it, but none of it would have been possible without this week’s Power of One Wednesday guest—my Executive Director, Scott Hilburn!
Scott was born and raised in West Tennessee near the Tennessee/Mississippi state line. He graduated from McNairy Central High School in Selmer, TN at 17 and then moved to Murfreesboro to attend Middle Tennessee State University. Scott decided to stay in the Nashville area (and we are both glad he did!) and worked in the banking industry for several years. Currently, he works in Operations for a transportation company in Nashville. Scott is incredibly passionate about the American Heart Association, especially after losing his father to heart disease in when he was just eight years old. He continues to advocate for the cause on behalf of his sister Hayley, who was also diagnosed with heart disease. Scott has served as the Executive Director of the Miss Nashville Scholarship Program for the past five years, and is the proud dad of an adorable Dachshund, Miles. He’s quickly become one of my favorite people and partner-in-crime, and I’m honored that he’s my guest today!
Who’s the biggest inspiration in your life and what’s one important lesson that they taught you?
My grandmother, Jean Teague, is my biggest inspiration. In 1993, when my dad was sick, my mom spent most of her time at the hospital with my dad. During that time, my grandmother essentially raised my sister and me. After my dad died, my grandparents moved in with my mom, sister, and me to help us during that very difficult time. My grandmother did everything she could do in order to make life “normal” for my sister and me. She did the same thing for my grandfather when he was in the hospital for about two months in 2009.
My grandmother has such a heart for service to the community. She worked for the public school system in the county where I grew up for over 30 years and just retired in 2014. I was home for a visit recently and she was sharing her concerns about the changes in the school system and how it would affect the kids, even though she no longer works there or has children in school. She is such a woman of faith and has such a giving heart. She worked hard her entire life and never had lavish things but to this day, it’s a guarantee that should I call and say, “I’m on my way to your house,” a dinner to feed six will be ready when I get there, even if it’s just the two of us! I hope that I can be half of the person she is when I’m her age and I’m so thankful for the role that she’s played in my life.
Tell me about one of the moments in your life when you knew that you were making a difference.
Being the Executive Director of The Miss Nashville Organization really does provide me the opportunity to make a difference. Whether my titleholder just aced a hard interview question, called to cry about a crush she saw with another girl, or won a swimsuit preliminary when she was most nervous about that phase of competition, I know that what I’m doing matters. My role as director is to push my titleholders to be the absolute best they can be and when they walk on the stage in Jackson that they know that there is nothing else they could have done to be their absolute best. While that’s my role in the pageant arena, we also spend a LOT of time together! I have to be a friend, a confidant, and sometimes a therapist, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. If I can help my titleholder to overcome one major obstacle during our time together, I know I’ve made a difference.
How and why did you become involved with the Miss America Organization? Why are you a volunteer?
The Miss Tennessee Pageant is held in Jackson, TN each year which is about 45 minutes from the town where I grew up. When I was in high school, my family would go to the Miss Tennessee Pageant each year, so it really was part of my childhood. After I moved to college I was looking for something to get involved with in Middle TN and there was a Miss Tennessee judge’s seminar being held in Brentwood. I emailed and asked if there was an age requirement to judge a local (I was only 17!) At the time there wasn’t, so I attended the seminar, and learned more about what Miss America stood for and what its values were. I knew from that point that I wanted to be a local director. I judged a few locals and started serving on a few local committees to help with production, mock interviews, etc. The Miss Nashville franchise then became available and I because was serving on the committee, was asked to take over. I’ve been a local director for 5 years, but this year (2016) will be my 16th Miss Tennessee to attend. Beth Hood won the first Miss Tennessee Pageant that I attended, and at the time, I was 15!
I love that the Miss America Organization embodies service and that has emerged even more over the past few years. Service to our community, elders, our veterans, and children. Additionally, MAO provides the opportunity for many young women to attend college and for many to graduate debt-free. Probably the thing that I love most about the Miss America Organization is its sense of family. I have gained some of my best friends through this organization—local directors, sponsors, contestants and parents.
What’s your favorite thing about Nashville and what’s one thing you think we could change?
I love that Nashville has become the “it city”. Several times a week I am reading about Nashville being on some top 10 list—food, places to visit, culture, arts, education…how exciting to live in such a happening city! I also love that while Nashville has many things to offer, it still feels like a small town. I’ve never struggled to find my place here—from the very start, Nashville has always felt like home.
I wish that we could change our transit system in Nashville. Over the past few years, as Nashville has rapidly grown, so has people’s commute time. We don’t have transportation figured out just yet, and unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to fix it! The problem is that the issue isn’t going away. I don’t know that there is a quick fix for a long term issue, but hopefully we’ll figure something out soon.
If you were President for a day, what’s one thing you would do?
I would take the opportunity to publicly thank our service men and women for their dedication to our country. While each of us lives a normal day to day life, there is someone fighting for our safety and our freedom. I think that so many of us often times get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take for granted who we have protecting our freedom and safety here at home.
I got so lucky when God placed this special man in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him and his smiles, Starbucks runs, and unending support. I’m so happy that I got to share his story with you today!
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