Miss Iowa 2008 Olivia Myers

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dear friends,

Yesterday someone asked me if I have changed this year. Tonight I reflect on all of the ways that my experience with the Miss America Organization has, indeed, changed me. It has strengthened my confidence, courage, and character. It has increased my sense of purpose and deepened my compassion for people. It has nurtured my interpersonal and performance skills. And it has caused me to believe, more than ever before, in the power of a dream. Each day I live out what was once only a dream, and in January I compete for the job of Miss America. Dreams do come true!

Each day brings me one step closer to the big event, and I could not be more excited to hit the stage in Vegas. I believe that everything we experience in life prepares us for tomorrow, so when January rolls around, I will be ready. I will have had a lifetime of preparation! Whatever happens on January 24th, I will be ready for the 25th, and I will be grateful for the road that got me there—because I am loving it all so much right now!

Speaking of that road, what have I been up to lately? In terms of Miss America prep, I have been busy. November rolled around, and the competition suddenly seemed quite near! Early this week I met Professor Baldridge at Black Hawk College for some interview practice, and I learned a lot about nonverbal communication. Thanks to Professor Baldridge and to Diana Anderson for accompanying me. Just yesterday I returned from Indiana, where I received more valuable insights regarding interview (and learned that I always need to travel with an atlas!). My wardrobe is currently in the making, and appearances offer me many opportunities to tap.

Last week I had two school appearances, one at Regina Elementary in Iowa City and another at West Marshall Elementary and Middle Schools in State Center. After spending the day with students at West Marshall, I attended the high school football game. Now let me tell you—I’ve signed many autographs as Miss Iowa, but I don’t know if I will ever sign as many as I did that night. Scraps of paper, hands, cheeks, arms, shirts, hats, and even iPods—how welcomed did I feel! Thanks to the Barry family for hosting me for the night.

This week I visited Bellevue Elementary, which I learned is the oldest school building in the state of Iowa. As a history major and future teacher, I appreciated this bit of trivia! Other recent appearances have been really enjoyable. Today I modeled in a fashion show and fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network, sponsored by Valley Bank. What a fun way to support an important cause! I also recently participated in an event that I had helped organize with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois in conjunction with the Miss Burlington Pageant. All of the Girl Scouts in attendance received a ticket to the pageant, so I hope to see many of them there! I also recently attended the grand opening for SunnyBrook, a beautiful assisted living facility in Burlington. It was fun to meet a lot of new people and to spend the afternoon with the Miss Burlington Pageant royalty.

Well, I think it’s about time for me to wrap things up and get to bed. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

All my best,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dear friends,

What a whirlwind of events the past month has been. I can’t believe it’s nearly November! It seems like just yesterday that I was boarding the plane for the Miss America reality show, yet I have already been home for two weeks. Though I can’t reveal any details of the show, I can assure you that I had a remarkable time and that the show will most certainly be entertaining and fun. I urge you all to watch on TLC in January. There are lots of surprises that you won’t want to miss; I can’t wait to tune in myself!

During the days that we were not filming, we kept busy with exciting activities in the LA area. Memorable events include: a visit to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a VIP tour of Warner Brothers Studio, appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the KTLA Morning Show, a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo, a shopping trip to South Coast Plaza Mall, a Los Angeles Angels baseball game, a Children’s Miracle Network promotion and breakfast at IHOP, and several sponsored dinners at some of the area’s best locations. Needless to say, we were treated well.

When I returned to Iowa, exhausted from a nonstop schedule, I brought with me a heightened sense of honor and gratitude to be a part of the Miss America Class of 2009. I had spent three weeks with 51 extraordinary young women, and I am blessed to be able to call them my friends. I wish them all the best as they continue on their journeys to Miss America. How incredibly exciting that one of us will soon take on that name!

My first week back in Iowa kept me on the move. First I attended the Miss Iowa Pageant’s annual Fall Workshop for board members serving at the local level. It was a pleasure to share my recent experiences with these dedicated volunteers and to catch up on state pageant news. The following day I made an appearance at the Parade of Homes in the Quad Cities. My next stop was at Tero in Des Moines for a two-day presentation skills workshop, and then I headed to Moline for Trinity Foundation’s Autumn in the QCA Celebrity Fashion Show. I hit the runway in some beautiful outfits from The Gentry Shop in Davenport. Finally, at the end of the week, I had my first rehearsal for my upcoming appearance in the QC Dancing with the Stars competition. I’m looking forward to showing off my new moves in December!

Yesterday I returned from a wonderful week in northwest Iowa, where I celebrated National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. On Sunday, October 19, I drove across the state to a small town called Sibley. I was greeted by a warm and welcoming family, the Klaassens, who hosted me for the next few nights. What followed was a busy six days that truly embody what this year is all about:

Monday: I began the day by greeting students as they arrived at the elementary school in Sibley. Throughout the day, I also had the opportunity to present two assemblies, address the Rotary Club, visit a pre-K classroom, and conduct different service projects with the students in every grade level. The service projects were some of the first in my Extreme Iowa Makeover, a project designed to improve Iowa communities while building the character of their youth. After school the Klaassens treated me to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant—a delicious way to wrap up the day!

Tuesday: In the morning I presented two assemblies to the students at Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School and headed to an outdoor recreational area for another service project with the student leadership team. For lunch I attended a meeting of the school counseling advisory board, where I was able to share my experiences with character education and to discuss my goals for the remainder of the year. I ended the day with a small group discussion and an assembly at the high school. Later that night, I had the privilege of attending dance class with the youngest member of my host family, Natalie. I had lots of fun dancing, answering questions, and signing autographs, of course!

Wednesday: I traveled to Primghar for two assemblies at South O’Brien Elementary, and then I continued to Milford to meet my next hosts, the Bouses. I had a great time going out for dinner with another wonderful family.

Thursday: I spent the day at Okoboji Elementary, teaching tap dance lessons and answering questions with each grade level. In the afternoon, I presented two assemblies—one at the elementary school and another at the middle school.

Friday: I had a fun-filled day at Spirit Lake Elementary and Middle Schools, where I presented two more assemblies and kept busy visiting each of the classrooms. After school I enjoyed High School Musical 3 with my host mom and sister!

Saturday: I attended the Iowa Character Awards Banquet in West Des Moines, where I was honored to speak to individuals whose lives reflect what it means to practice the highest standards of character. Congratulations to all of the deserving award recipients.

My most sincere thanks go to all who made this week so special for me. And now, here’s to another great week!

All my best,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Appearance Photos and More

Hello, everyone!

I know that many of you have been patiently waiting to see photographs from my appearances. I would like to share the following links with you. Click on them, and you will be directed to a couple of photo albums I just completed. Enjoy!



As you may remember, the Miss America lottery took place last Monday, and I am happy to say that I was able to choose a competition spot that I wanted! I am number 11 in the Alpha group, which means that my competition schedule will be as follows:

Monday, January 19 (PM): Interview

Tuesday, January 20: Talent

Wednesday, January 21: On Stage Question

Thursday, January 22: Swimsuit/Evening Wear

Saturday, January 24: Miss America LIVE!

After the lottery, I spent a lot of time traveling last week. On Tuesday I was in Des Moines for the CHARACTER COUNTS! Community Coalition Networking Workshop at the Iowa Hall of Pride. I met some wonderful people who share a passion for enhancing Iowa communities by developing the character of their citizens. I was able to share with these community leaders what I am doing throughout the state this year and to offer my service to their character-building initiatives.

The next morning, my mother met me in Davenport to accompany me to Chicago. While in the city, I met a personal trainer to help me prepare for Miss America. Mom and I also enjoyed shopping for makeup at Bloomingdale's and stopping at an outlet mall on the way home.

Thursday morning I was back in Des Moines for interview preparation and interpersonal skill development with the ladies at Tero. I cannot thank them enough for their continual support and encouragement. Their expertise has helped me to more effectively communicate my message as Miss Iowa and will most certainly serve me well during my Miss America interview.

Thursday evening I spent at Des Moines Area Community College as a guest at a Latinos Unidos meeting. Latinos Unidos is a not-for-profit organization committed to providing support to Hispanics and Latinos in central Iowa by focusing on education and employment in skilled occupations and professions. According to a 2007 report by the US Census Bureau, immigrants account for one in eight US residents. In Iowa, immigrants and their US-born children make up 5.9% of the population. These statistics provide one reason why character education programs must address issues surrounding diversity and the multicultural quality of our society. I wanted to learn from Latinos Unidos how I can best serve Iowa's Hispanic and Latino population as a teacher and as a Miss Iowa who seeks to promote a caring and inclusive society through character education.

On Friday I worked from my computer and spent some time organizing my wardrobe for LA. Then I drove to Sperry to spend some time with family and friends for the weekend. Tomorrow I'm off to Nevada, Iowa, to visit the children at an elementary school.

I'd like to leave you with a quote I just read on a PBS website called Character Above All: An Exploration of Presidential Leadership. This site actually offers many quotes that I'd like to share. Perhaps I'll choose one now and sprinkle others throughout my future entries. In the meantime, you may like to check out the website at www.pbs.org/newshour/character. The Character Above All project came out prior to the 1996 presidential election, and I think it raises a number of questions that are relevant to the days before us. Happy surfing! And now in the words of Abraham Lincoln: "Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

Wishing you a wonderful week-


Monday, September 8, 2008

Miss America Lottery

Good morning!

I just want to let you all know that if you are interested in watching the Miss America lottery today, you can do so at http://onlineselection.missamerica.org. It will begin at 4:00. Hope that Iowa appears quickly on your screen so that I can choose the position I want!

Have a great day-


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Watch for me on TLC!

Dear friends,

I cannot believe that in exactly two weeks I will be departing for Los Angeles to film a reality TV show! In case you haven’t heard, TLC is producing a reality show, which will feature the 52 contestants for Miss America and air in January. I cannot wait for my television debut, and I must say that this show has been on my mind a lot lately! I never thought that I would have the opportunity to do something like this. I cannot wait to tell you all about my experience—after January, of course! Until then, I’ll keep you updated on my appearances.

On August 28, I was a special guest at the 2008 Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant. I received a special tour of the grounds; rode the featured tractor, trolley, and carousel; met LOTS of kind people; and ate world-famous meatloaf. I was featured in the saloon show and even held hostage during a train robbery! Throughout the day, I also learned more about my Midwestern heritage and was reminded of why I’m proud to be an Iowan. Thank you to everyone who made my day so memorable!

I traveled to Iowa City on August 30, where I was honored to spend the afternoon at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital where Children’s Miracle Network hosted a movie party. The children and I dressed like princes and princesses and watched Disney’s Enchanted on the big screen. We also enjoyed some popcorn, of course!

The next morning I spoke to the Sunday School class at Solid Rock Baptist Church in Wapello. I had such a nice time talking with the students about character and sharing pieces of my life with them. They asked wonderful questions, and I appreciated their enthusiastic participation in our discussion. Following the church service, I was picked up and escorted to a nearby golf course by limousine—my first official limo ride as Miss Iowa! I spent the afternoon visiting with participants in the 1st Annual Johnnie B’s Classic, a golf tournament to benefit a local business that recently caught on fire. It was so encouraging to see how much the people in this small community care for each other, and I was honored to be a part of their special day. The next day was Labor Day, and I was fortunate to spend it in McCausland, the home of Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen, Jessica Jennings. First, I rode in the Labor Day parade with Jessica and Jr. Miss Iowa, Francesca Lubecki-Wilde. Then, we all enjoyed lunch at the Jennings home and prepared for an afternoon show. Jessica and I performed some dance routines, and we all shared our platforms and experiences with the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program. It was so much fun to put on a show with my wonderful “pageant sisters” and to have some time to just hang out together. Thank you to the Jennings family for serving as my host and for organizing such a nice day!

The Labor Day appearance kicked off my last week, and I spent the rest of it in mock interviews, dance rehearsals, and on the road to meet my dress designer for Miss America. Let me tell you, I am quite excited to be able to have a gown designed especially for me. I don’t know exactly what it will look like yet, but I am confident that it will be just right. I can’t wait to wear it on the Miss America stage!

Speaking of Miss America, tomorrow will determine my competition group and number for the pageant. At 5:00 EST, all of the contestants will log onto their computers for what seems to work a little bit like the NFL draft—the Miss America lottery. The name of each state will appear on our screens in random order, and when I see “Iowa,” I will have five minutes to call in and choose where I want to be placed in the competition lineup. Thinking about the lottery is helping the reality of Miss America to sink in a little bit more. Sometimes I still can’t believe that my dream of performing on that stage is coming true.

Yesterday I hosted a dance camp for youth at Cheryl's School of Dance. I had so much fun teaching dance again--it's been too long!--and want to thank all of the dancers who participated. I'm so glad you came.

Blessings to you this week and always—


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Miss America's Outstanding Teen--What a Blast!

Hello! I just returned from an amazing week at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida. First off, I would like to congratulate Iowa’s Outstanding Teen, Jessica Jennings, for representing our state remarkably well both on the stage and off. I am continually impressed with Jessica and was so proud to be from Iowa as I watched and cheered for her from the audience. I also had a great time getting to know Jessica a little bit better throughout the week. She’s not only talented, but also a lot of fun!

I was one of 48 contestants for Miss America 2009 in Orlando. What a pleasure it was to meet most of the other contestants and to get a glimpse into their lives as state representatives. Now that we are acquainted, I am even more excited for the approaching reality show filming and for Miss America in January—I will certainly be in good company!

In addition to the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant and preliminaries, the Miss America “Class of 2009” was treated to some very special activities and events throughout the week in Orlando. Two highlights, of course, were Disney World and Sea World. At the Magic Kingdom, we felt like true royalty as we were escorted from one attraction to the next, never having to wait in line! Perhaps my favorite event during the week was a Miss America fundraiser held at the beautiful estate of David and Jacqueline Siegel with Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund. Again, I felt like a royal guest, dressed up with the other contestants in lovely cocktail dresses and sampling delicacies from some of the area’s finest restaurants. Upon our arrival, I even caught a glimpse of the red carpet, as we made our grand entrances one-by-one, each posing for a photo at the end of the walkway. What a thrill it was when the Siegel’s surprised the Miss America Organization with a check for $50,000 at the end of the night.

A 1950s-themed Sock Hop was another highlight from the week. I joined the teen contestants and their fans for a night of entertainment, food, and dancing, of course! One morning, I also appeared on a local television show with Kirsten and the other contestants. My trip ended on a wonderful note at Sea World, where I was able to spend the day with Jessica, Bill and Nancy Lee, Becky Lee Hinton, and Rebecca Cutler and her beautiful daughter, Elizabeth. We explored the Arctic and many other exhibits, dined among sharks at the Underwater Grille, had a thrill on the roller coaster, attended a Hawaiian luau, and got splashed (and entirely soaked!) at the shamu show. Thank you so much to Bill and Nancy for treating me to such a fun and memorable trip!

Before heading to Florida, I was busy preparing to take the Miss America stage, and now my preparations will continue. I also made some very special appearances leading up to my trip, a few of which I would like to briefly share with you. On July 23 and 24, I was a guest at the Des Moines County Fair, where I emceed the queen contest and judged the talent show. I was also able to visit and dance with residents at Hope Haven in company of Li’l Miss Burlington, Megan Jennings; Junior Miss Burlington, Haley Darnold; and Miss Burlington’s Outstanding Teen, Mariah Carey. We had a wonderful time! My trip to Burlington Care Center with Haley still stands out as another favorite adventure so far this year.

I also enjoyed Miracle Treat Day, a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network, on August 7. On Miracle Treat Day, Dairy Queen donates all of its proceeds from blizzard sales to CMN, so I was honored to promote the day through radio advertisements, and I very much enjoyed my banana cream pie blizzard! On August 8, I visited children in a Ft. Madison community, where the kids decorated two t-shirts—one to keep for themselves and one to donate to Children’s Miracle Network. Thank you to the children for their beautiful gifts. On August 9, I attended the Annual National Trappers Association Convention in Mason City, where I donned my lovely fur coat, a gift from the Iowa Trappers Association. Thank you to the trappers! And my final appearance before my trip to Orlando was at the Iowa State Fair, where I met some of the people who make our state so great and was introduced at the Bill Riley Talent Show. Many, many memories I’ve made on the Bill Riley stage throughout my life. It was so special to be back as Miss Iowa, and I thank Bill Riley Jr. for continuing to offer young Iowans the opportunity to hone their skills and showcase their talents.

As you can see, I am truly enjoying each day “on the job.” There really is no other job quite like that of Miss Iowa—it is more like an adventure filled with surprises, countless opportunities to grow, and encounters with remarkable people. I will keep you posted as my adventure continues. Thank you for reading!

With love,


Monday, July 21, 2008

My weekend

Happy Monday, everyone!

I just returned to Davenport from a busy and enjoyable weekend of travels. On Friday I journeyed to Des Moines for an early radio interview, and I spent the remainder of the morning with my new friends at Tero, experts in interpersonal skills training and supporters of the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program. I look forward to returning to Tero soon, and I thank the trainers for kindly listening to me talk all morning—and for providing wonderful feedback. In the afternoon, I stopped by the Institute for Character Development, where I was able to pick up some supplies for upcoming appearances and fill in the staff on my Miss Iowa adventures. My thanks go to everyone at the Institute for so warmly welcoming me into the CHARACTER COUNTS! family. Next, I stopped by the State Historical Society of Iowa, where I had the pleasure of meeting with the Museum Education and Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Macht, to discuss my platform and my goals for this year. I left the museum not only impressed with the Caucus Iowa exhibit (please check it out, if you get the chance!), but also with fresh and exciting ideas for teaching tolerance and developing kids’ character this year. I rounded out my Friday with a stop at the outlet mall in Williamsburg, where I managed to find a cute business dress—a successful finish to a successful day!

The rest of the weekend I spent making appearances in company of my mom. On Saturday, we drove to Missouri Valley, where I welcomed RAGBRAI participants to our state at the official RAGBRAI kickoff. What a pleasure it was to greet bicyclists from every US state and several other countries! I was so impressed with the hospitality of the Missouri Valley community that welcomed me and provided me with lovely accommodations at the Oak Tree Inn and Penny’s Diner. As always, I was proud to be an Iowan on Saturday night.

On Sunday, Mom and I traveled to Des Moines again, where I had the privilege of attending the Baby and Kids Expo. I enjoyed signing autographs and judging the Cutest Kid contest, though it was also a difficult task! I am pleased to say that the money raised through the contest will benefit Children’s Miracle Network.

Well, I hope your week is off to a great start. Talk to you soon--