This time last year, I was blessed and honored to be crowned the 2012 National American Miss Iowa Preteen. The time has gone by so quickly, and what a year it has been! The pageant was over in a blur and just one week later, I was in my first parade with two of my sister queens.
I started my year of service by donating all of the books and bears I received from the pageant to the Basket of Hope - an organization that makes baskets to deliver to hospitalized children. For my national community service, I continued as a volunteer for the Cedar Valley Humane Society helping to care for animals available for adoption.
In June, I met with all of the Iowa queens for a day in Des Moines at the Capitol building. We were able to meet the the Lieutenant Governor and have a private tour. I even received a certificate of recognition from the Governor! We had so much fun having our own photo shoot on the Capitol lawn. What a great day!
Some of my best memories are of attending other state pageants as visiting royalty. I was able to visit National American Miss pageants in Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois and met many amazing girls, some of whom I met again at nationals. I was also a volunteer buddy at the Iowa Miss Amazing pageant and had the chance to attend the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas with other state and national royalty.
The highlight of my year was definitely representing Iowa at the national pageant where I met new friends from all over the country. I had so much fun at all of the themed rehearsals, participating in optional competitions, and the Thanksgiving dinner. We spent a day at Disneyland where we met Mickey Mouse and had a group photo by the castle. We also toured Hollywood visiting Beverly Hills, Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and the Santa Monica Pier. At the end of the week, it was so exiting to watch my older sister, Allyson, being crowned the National All-American Miss!
I can't thank the NAM directors and staff enough for providing this great opportunity for girls. The memories I have and the people I have met will be in my heart always. I owe that to this great organization and the people who work so hard to make it possible. You truly do care about each and every girl and making it a positive experience for everyone.
To Charity, Alyssa, Annie, Priya, Becca, and Destiny - you have been great sister queens and we had an amazing year! I wish you all the best for the future.
Last but not least, I especially want to thank my family for always supporting me in so many ways and for encouraging me to pursue my dreams. I couldn't have done it without you!
To all the Iowa contestants this year, I hope you have an unforgettable weekend and meet lots of new friends. Just be yourself and you will have so much fun. You don't have to take home the crown to be a winner. You are all winners for having the courage to try something new. Good luck to everyone. Congratulations to the girl who is chosen as the 2013 Miss Iowa Preteen, you are in for a fun and exciting journey. Make the most of it, it will go by too fast!
I can't wait to meet all of you at the the 2013 Miss Iowa pageant!
Kristen Hovda - 2012 National American Miss Iowa Preteen