As a college student at the University of Memphis in 2007, I had the Emerging Leaders Scholarship which required me to hold active leadership positions on campus as well as be active in the community! I did work with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, a local homeless shelter, the Memphis Children’s museum and so many more philanthropic ventures. I fell in love with Memphis and the work that all of my Emerging Leader Cohorts were doing for the city. Therefore, there was only one resolution for me and that was to be Miss Memphis! For years, I took my chances at the crown. 3 out of 4 times, I won 3rd runner-up. All the while, I continued doing the work in the community and on campus. Each time, I trained harder and harder. I’d go to school, work, voice lessons and then to workout with a trainer. I loved every second of it! It’s made me who I am today. I work a full-time job, two side-gigs and run a vibrant blog! I also still make time to go to the gym. My stent competing transformed me and that’s what I want you to take away from this blog. It isn’t about having a pretty face or a crown. It’s about perseverance, persistence, and at the end of the day, pleasure from a job well done!
Below: My first year competing for Miss Memphis 2008
When Shay Bader Wallace, the beloved director of Miss Memphis, called me to judge, I proudly accepted. I never won Miss Memphis and that is okay. However, being a judge was an honor and allowed me the opportunity to choose two outstanding women to represent the city, possibly the state (Miss Tennessee) and possibly the country (Miss America)! That’s a big deal. It’s almost like when a parent doesn’t get to do everything he or she wants to do but wants their kids to have the best experience. I was committed to choosing the best Miss Memphis I possibly could. This is a sign of growth that competing fostered in me.
I know what it takes to become a thriving contestant first and foremost. The girls who compete for Miss Memphis are like none other! Miss Memphis 2017, Callie Compton competed 7 times before she won the title. That is perseverance folks! Miss Shelby County 2012, Hannah Disterdick Johnson, came back to compete again to become Miss Memphis 2013! Other previous titleholders did the same thing. Other contestants did the same. That is persistence folks. To this day, Hannah is one of my closest and dearest friends. I’ve seen Hannah rise from the lowest moments that life can present to anyone. I’ll never forget Thanksgiving 2014 when Hannah joined my family and me in Memphis. It’s tradition for us to say what we’re thankful for. We were standing, holding hands in my brother’s kitchen, spouting off our gratitude when Hannah’s turn came up. She was in tears as she shared her acknowledgments. We all gathered around her with love and hugs! Hannah was officially initiated into the Hockett family. This is what a pageant sister is. Let me remind you, competing for Miss Memphis is not about the crown. Hannah and I have shared some of the most intimate moments life has to offer. The day my dad passed, Hannah’s son Tobiah Sydney was making his grand debut into the world.
Below: Hannah is is the nude dress! We’ve been holding hands since then!
As you can see, being a competitor in this particular Miss America preliminary pageant is a feat. Each woman vying for the title wholeheartedly wants to be Miss Memphis for various reasons larger than a crown. In retrospect, this wasn’t as clear to me when I competed. My competitive nature blinded the fact that we were all so uniquely made inside and out! Therefore, when I judged this year’s pageant, I couldn’t help but notice the initiative of each young woman. It was refreshing and insightful! I kept thinking, if I knew then, what I know now. The personal development and growth that pageantry elicits are incomparable. Combine that with the “Grit and Grind” nature of most Memphians, and you have yourself a leader who just so happens to look like a queen of the best monarchy!
From the stage to the judge’s seat, I’m proud to say, “Ladies, I’ve been where you are. And guess what? Even if you don’t win, you’ll win in other areas of your life! It is true what they say, “Everyone is a winner!” I wish we could share the personal interviews of each young woman that walks into that room shaking in her high heels. They share intimate stories with we judges. The courage to share your life with others is something even the most elderly, wise people haven’t conquered. These women are working on a personal level on various social issues ranging from epilepsy to women’s empowerment to human trafficking to autism. I’ll remind you one more time, it’s not about the crown!
Congratulations are in order to all pageant girls. Ladies, pat yourselves on the back for a job well done on and off the stage!
Special thanks to my sweet husband! He has loved me at my skinniest and my largest! LOL! Below is after Miss Memphis 2013!