Don’t give up on your dreams.
Keep on keepin' on.
The best is yet to come.
All in good time.
Hard work pays off.
Just be patient.
We’ve all heard these sayings many times. As cliche as they may be, truth lies within each. After 20 years I am thankful than I didn’t let my dream diminish. Because of it, I found many pieces of the puzzle that makes me feel complete.
I attended the University of Wyoming, the school with the small town touch. This next statement will come as a shock to those who know me personally, but back then I suffered from severe stage fright. I avoided every high school class that involved public speaking, but as a required college course I was forced to face my fear. I begged my counselor to help me find a way out, but instead she enrolled me in a class for students with speaking anxiety. Looking back now I can see that was a pivotal turning point for me not just personally, but professionally. I learned how to cope with the anxiety and sift through the emotion to find my strength. Thanks to Mrs. Carol, my eyes were opened to new paths because being afraid of speaking in front of groups wouldn’t hold me back any longer. I found my strength.
Shortly before the semester was over, a friend suggested that I compete for Miss Laramie Jubilee. At first I felt the panic set it, there was no way I was rodeo queen material. But thanks to my mother, she helped me see that I may actually enjoy this. Who knew where that hypothetical conversation with Chris Hufty would lead me. I found my goal.
My professor helped me fine tune the delivery of my speech as well as learning to cope with the fear of the unknown impromptu questions. I was prepared. I competed. I won. My life was forever changed. I felt a new level of passion for rodeo. Not only could I stay involved with rodeo, but I could help promote and educate a sport I loved. And to think, six months prior I was trying to avoid speaking to groups. I found success.
The next year I won the title of Miss Rodeo Wyoming and went on to finish as 2nd Runner-up to Miss Rodeo America 1999. During the pageant I saw volunteers work tirelessly to ensure each contestant had a positive and memorable experience. Even though I didn’t win and was very disappointed, I was so moved by the obvious generosity and kindness that I knew I needed to a part of that group. Everything happens for a reason, I didn’t win for a reason. I was traveling on the path that was meant to be on. I became a volunteer for Miss Rodeo America, Inc. I found my people.
Over the next few years I served on various committees and was beyond honored to be elected to the Executive Board. My eyes were opened to all of the moving gears that work together to make this organization function at a high level. The level of professionalism and open-mindedness mixed in with genuine kindness was empowering. Watching these leaders was inspiring. I found my mentors.
I could write a novel full of my most favorite MRAI memories and experiences, there are thousands. Just like any organization or business, MRAI has had growing pains, ups and downs. We’ve celebrated the highest of highs and cried together through the lows. There were times when the excitement and pride were nearly unrealistic and even a few times when I wanted to resign because the stress and emotions were overtaking me. But, my heart would never let me walk away even when my family asked me to. As a board we always kept our eyes on the future, stayed united and ensured that we were doing the right thing for the organization. I found my MRA family.
My MRA family is now not only comprised of my mentors and friends, but they have become my employers. In January 2017 the Executive Board created a new position that focused on the MRA Pageant. I was offered and ecstatically accepted the role of MRAI Pageant Director. It was something I had dreamed about doing for many years, and now it was happening. I loved every minute of planning, organizing and coordinating this event. There were very long days and nights, but when you enjoy what you’re doing it’s not work. After staff changes and evaluating the success of the pageant, I was recently offered a more permanent, full-time position with increased responsibility. My heart is full and fulfilled. I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to, and am excited about the direction and growth of the MRAI organization. I’ve found my career.