Thank you. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.
I thought I was holding it all together, but after some emotional moments with my friends and family, and some tearful goodbyes, I’ve been reduced to a puddle of tears and emotion over the past few days. However, nothing has compared to this afternoon when I was able to meet with the judges and – most special to me – meet one of my biggest role models: Vanessa Williams. I tried to hold it together, but of course the tears flowed in that moment as well.
I haven’t been crying because I’m sad. I just can’t believe that this wonderful experience is coming to an end, and in just several hours, I will be starting the next chapter of my life. Change and “leaving the nest,” if you will, can be scary. I’m also a little tired so I’m sure that doesn’t help in the emotion department. But I AM READY. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
I have to take a moment and thank everyone who has gotten me to this point, both before the Miss America crown and since the journey started on that momentous day one year ago. The national staff; Dick Clark Productions; our sponsors; the crew; hostesses; security; all of the moving parts that make this happen; my INCREDIBLE Miss America class of 2015; Sam Haskell, my advocate and friend; my best friends; and my family who has been there every step of the way since I entered my first pageant when I was 12 years old and has instilled in me values of hard work and an innate appreciation for being an American. I love you all more than you know.
In my last moments as Miss America, I am so proud to have been able to get through this year while always staying true to myself. My advice to all of the young women that hold the dream of Miss America? Remember YOU ARE ENOUGH. Stay true to YOU! Be YOU! The real you is the most beautiful you! You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on custom gowns and coaching. No amount of makeup and outside opinion will ever alter what is most beautiful on the inside: YOUR HEART.
I can’t wait to see who will wear our 95th anniversary crown and continue the legacy of Miss America! This isn’t goodbye, as you definitely have not seen the last of me. All my love!
Keep up with me on Twitter @KiraKazantsev and Instagram realkirakazantsev.