Monday, July 25, 2016

Farewell

The time has come for me to say my goodbye. A goodbye as the reigning Mrs. International 2015, but not to the International system. I have grown to love and adore each and every person that is affiliated with our amazing system. I know I will be back in some form to continue to show my gratitude and support for a system that goes above and beyond for each of their titleholders. Titleholders that not only win the coveted International crowns, but the titleholders that hold their local city, county, state and country titles are all supported and all have the opportunity to make a huge difference.

Always first and foremost, to my Lord and Savior. HE is the one that gave me the calling to pursue my quest for the crown. He has never left my side through the ups and downs or tears of joy and frustration.

To my wonderful husband, Justin, without you I wouldn’t have had a platform to begin with. You have been my encourager, the one I know I can always lean on, the one who always has my back. You helped me to think outside of the box when I didn’t know of a different avenue to take and most of all you played a part in protecting all of us and our freedom. I Love You! To our beautiful children, Hudson, Thayer and Annaleigh you each light up my world and make me a better person. Thank you for always understanding, even from a very young age, how important it is to serve others. I pray you will continue to have a servant’s heart and always follow God’s path He has for your life. Princess mommy loves you to the moon and back! Mom, my person, my best friend, my number 1 fan. You will never know how much I love you and appreciate everything that you have always done for me. Without you, I truly would not be the woman I am today. Dad, Toby, Nanny and Poppy, thank you for always being there when I needed a babysitter, for supporting my dreams and encouraging me to chase them. I love ya’ll!

To our amazing sponsors, Clay, Joey and Ms. Terri, you will never know how special you made me feel at our photoshoots. Clay, you made me not only look, but feel like I was on top of the world. Being able to transform a tired mom into a queen was no match for you. Thank you for giving me the makeup lesson of a lifetime, along with the makeup! Your talent in front of and behind the camera is second to none. Joey, my goodness, the generous dresses that were each perfection. You always know what will look good and could easily pick out something with your eyes closed. A queen isn’t a queen without the perfect gown and you exceeded this queens dreams. Ms. Terri, I’m not sure I have ever laughed so hard. Thank you for always making me laugh and greeting everyone with a smile! Suzy Bootz, thank you for your unwavering mentorship to every woman you work with. We are all blessed and better people because of you. Thomas and Drew Dunn, thank you for the amazing hair products to ensure my hair was crown ready this year and for helping to get me stage ready! Allison and Titlewear, thank you for providing me with stylish luggage, bags and clothes that made traveling so much easier while showing off how proud I was to be Mrs. International 2015! Stefanie Somers, thank you for creating custom, beautiful pieces of artwork to match every gown!

Cristen, thank you for all of your dedicated work on our social media sites. As a busy mother of two beautiful girls, you always made sure that you showed everything that we were up to and gave plenty of hashtags to go along with it. Thank you! To every International Pageants director and those that give up so much of their time for our system, thank you! Each of you play a huge role into our continued success and you give us an outlet to help others on a much bigger level.

Elise, oh my goodness I am not sure where to begin with you. I knew from the beginning that being on this journey with my Texas queen was going to be wonderful, but I didn’t realize how truly lucky I would end up. Our late night talks over frozen chicken nuggets and group texts with JMoney have me laughing just thinking about them. Thank you for being a wonderful Aunt Elise to the kids! Casa de Algor always has your room ready! We all love you! Jules, I am so proud of you and your heart to serve others. If I could go back and do my teen years over, it would be because of you. You are a true leader to your peers and I can’t wait to see how bright your future will be! You both have made my year even better than I could have ever imagined!

Mary and Mel Richardson, from the bottom of my heart thank you! Thank you for the most amazing experience and opportunity of a lifetime. You both make it possible for each of us to live out God’s plan to serve others before ourselves. You are the reason why we are each successful and although I know the hours are long and tiresome, we each applaud you on a job well done. Thank you!

Finally, to Jim Dolan and Heroes on the Water, Don Nguyen and 22Kill and Julie Clement and Carol Self with Homes for our Troops, thank you for providing organizations and outlets for our nations bravest to turn to. You each make a positive impact on the lives of our veterans, I know you have in our life. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your organizations and for all that you do.

Last, but certainly not least, OUR veterans and their families. You each have given all of yourself to our country. You fought to protect and defend those that you will never meet. You made it possible for us to sleep safely at night without us even thinking twice about it. What you did for each of us deserves more than just a simple thanks. We owe our very best to each of you!

Farabe'

Friday, July 22, 2016

International Queens in the News: Part 3

Mrs. Alabama International 2016 - Renee Beardon

Geraldine Teacher Crowned Mrs. Alabama International 2016 (Times-Journal)

http://times-journal.com/news/article_6ac48ffa-3d80-11e6-8695-0bb0ee597ec1.html


Miss Teen Alaska International 2016 - Amy Gentry

Hutchison's Amy Gentry Signs with UAF Rifle School (Newsminer)

http://www.newsminer.com/sports/high_school/hutchison-s-amy-gentry-signs-with-uaf-rifle/article_412b8ec2-1815-11e6-bf93-eb663cc5e58e.html


Mrs. Arkansas International - Jessica Jackson




Miss Teen Bahamas International 2016 - Ariannah Wells-Bain

A New Queen is Crowned Miss Teen Bahamas International 2016 (Bahamas Local)

http://www.bahamaslocal.com/newsitem/153168/A_New_Queen_is_Crowned_Miss_Teen_Bahamas_International.html

A New Queen is Crowned Miss Teen Bahamas International 2016 (Bahamas Weekly)

http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/community/A_New_Queen_is_Crowned_Miss_Teen_Bahamas_International48612.shtml


Mrs. Delaware International 2016 - Sarah Leonard


Patriotism on Parade in Smyrna (Delaware State News)

http://delawarestatenews.net/news/patriotism-parade-smyrna/#.V3r9AXB6dMU.facebook

Photos: Smyrna-Clayton Fourth of July Parade (Smyrna-Clayton Sun-Times)

http://www.scsuntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=DE&Date=20160704&Category=PHOTOGALLERY&ArtNo=704009998&Ref=PH&taxoid&refresh=true



Mrs. Idaho International 2016 - Tamika Jefferson

Mrs. Idaho International Asks for Your Help (Idaho State Journal)

http://idahostatejournal.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/mrs-idaho-international-asks-for-your-help/article_be2856cb-65bf-58e0-929b-ae1aea15233e.html


Miss India International 2016 - Madusree Krishnan

Madu Iyer Crowned Miss India International 2016 (TheFoundations.tv)

http://thefoundations.tv/madu-iyer-crowned-miss-india-international-2016/


Mrs. India International 2016 - Meghna Joshi

Meghna Joshi from Uttarakhand Going to Represent India (Himalayan Buzz)

http://www.himalayanbuzz.com/meghna-joshi-from-uttarakhand-going-to-represent-india-in-misses-international-2016/

Meghna Joshi Snags Mrs. India International Title (India West)

http://www.indiawest.com/entertainment/global/meghna-joshi-snags-mrs-india-international-title-maira-khan-is/article_5fd8f7c0-1d1e-11e6-8915-4bf754e2b4b8.html

Mrs. Meghna Ballabh Joshi Crowned Mrs. India International 2016 (Desi Express)

http://desiexpressusa.com/aroundtown/mrs-meghna-ballabh-joshi-crowned-mrs-india-international-2016/

Dehradun Meghna Become Mrs. India International (Amarujala)

http://www.amarujala.com/photo-gallery/uttarakhand/dehradun-meghna-become-mrs-india-international

Uttarakhand Meghna Want To Become Mrs. International (Amarujala)

http://www.amarujala.com/photo-gallery/dehradun/uttarakhand-meghna-want-to-become-mrs-international





Miss Indiana International 2016 - Alexa Sewell

Victim of Domestic Abuse Speaking Out Through Miss International Pageant (WISH TV 8)

http://wishtv.com/2016/05/31/victim-of-domestic-abuse-speaking-out-through-miss-international-pageant/


Mrs. Indiana International 2016 - Laurie Balla


Spring Ladies Day Celebration (Expo for Women)

http://www.expoforwomensouthbend.org

Modeling (Fox 28)

http://www.fox28.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=12531087



Mrs. Iowa International 2016 - Rosanne Plante

Daughter of Former Area Resident to Compete for Beauty Pageant Crown (Bowling Green Times)

http://www.bowlinggreentimes.com/daughter-of-former-area-resident-to-compete-for-beauty-pageant-crown/

Plante Crowned Mrs. Iowa International (Catalyst Cruises) 

http://www.catalystcruises.com/plante-crowned-mrs-iowa-international/

Delta Epsilon Alumna Crowned Mrs. Iowa International (The Adelphean)

http://editiondigital.net/display_article.php?id=2496136&id_issue=305632

Plante Crowned Mrs. Iowa International (Elsberry Democrat)

http://www.elsberrydemocrat.com/plante-crowned-mrs-iowa-international/

Hinton Woman Will be Competing in the Mrs. International Pageant This July (Siouxland Matters)

http://www.siouxlandmatters.com/news/local-news/a-hinton-woman-will-be-competing-in-the-mrs-international-pageant-this-july

Class Notes - Page 27 (Morningside.edu)

https://morningside.edu/assets/uploads/general/Morningsider_SS2016.pdf



Miss Minnesota International 2016 - Sabrina Astar 

HHS Grad is Miss Minnesota International (Hastings Star Gazette)

http://www.hastingsstargazette.com/news/4032229-hhs-grad-miss-minnesota-international


Mrs. Maine International 2016 - Mikell Reed Carroll 

Mainers at White House Summit on Women (Armenian Mirror Spectator)

http://www.mirrorspectator.com/2016/06/09/mainers-at-white-house-summit-on-women/

Portland Woman Begins Reign as Mrs. Maine International (Maine Women Magazine)

http://mainewomenmagazine.com/portland-woman-begins-reign-mrs-maine-international/

Two Maine Women Selected to Attend White House Summit on Women (Maine Women Magazine)

http://mainewomenmagazine.com/two-maine-women-selected-attend-white-house-summit-women/

Portland Woman Begins Reign as Mrs. Maine International (The Forecaster)

http://www.theforecaster.net/people-business-june-22/



Mrs. Nevada International 2016 - Aquillia Vang


UNR Grad Student to Compete for Mrs. International Title (Reno Gazette-Journal)

http://www.rgj.com/story/life/2016/07/21/unr-grad-student-compete-mrs-international-title/87373146/


Mrs. North Dakota International 2016 - Ashley Rae Klinger


Mrs. North Dakota on NDT (KFYR TV)

http://www.kfyrtv.com/ndtoday/home/headlines/Mrs-North-Dakota-on-NDT-382372161.html


Miss Teen Ohio International 2016 - Abbie Davis

NDA Senior Uses Crown to Spread Suicide Prevention (13 ABC News)

http://www.13abc.com/home/headlines/NDA-Senior-uses-Crown-to-spread-suicide-prevention-380693851.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_13abc


Mrs. Pakistan International 2016 - Maira Khan

Maira Khan is Mrs. Pakistan International (India West)

http://www.indiawest.com/entertainment/global/meghna-joshi-snags-mrs-india-international-title-maira-khan-is/article_5fd8f7c0-1d1e-11e6-8915-4bf754e2b4b8.html


Mrs. South Carolina International 2016 - Dana Boutwell


Dana Boutwell Interview (CN2 News)

https://vimeo.com/172121778


Mrs. South Dakota International 2016 - Jessica Bahmuller 


Mrs. SD International Competing for National Title This Week (KCCR AM 1240)

http://www.todayskccr.com/blog/mrs-sd-international-competing-for-national-title-this-week/


Mrs. Sri Lanka International 2016 - Chandima Delwala 

It's Nothing Personal (Daily News)

http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/06/06/features/83736


Miss Tennessee International 2016 - Jurnee Carr


Whitney's Fit 4 Life Challenge (Good Day Tri-Cities)

http://gooddaytricities.com/?p=28949

More Than a Pageant Queen, This Gray, Tennessee Woman's Mission is a 'Jurnee' of Love (Herald Courier)

http://www.heraldcourier.com/community/more-than-a-pageant-queen-this-gray-tennessee-woman-s/article_7174158c-2b9c-11e6-be40-6b989f5b0349.html?mode=jqm






Miss Teen Utah International 2016 - Ansley Funes

Service-oriented Teen Crowned Miss Teen Utah International (KSL)

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1286&sid=39624480


Miss Vermont International 2016 - Maddi Shaw

Reformer News Roundup (WKVT Radio)

http://wkvtradio.com/gmm/reformer-news-round-up-83/

There's More to Reformer Reporter Than Meets the Eye (Brattleboro Reformer)

http://www.reformer.com/ci_29352469/more-reformer-reporter-than-meets-eye




Miss Teen Virginia International 2016 - Katie Fox

Fox Champions Boys & Girls Club Bid (Southwest Times)

http://www.southwesttimes.com/2016/05/fox-champions-boys-girls-club-bid/


Miss West Indies International 2016 - Esther Landé 

Miss West Indies International Esther Lande (Kreyolicious) 

http://kreyolicious.com/miss-west-indies-international/22892/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook


Mrs. West Virginia International 2016 - Amanda Duffy

Go Red Girlfriends Promo (Fox 11)

https://video-dfw1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t42.1790-2/13251864_929762460486817_1430537684_n.mp4?efg=eyJ2ZW5jb2RlX3RhZyI6InN2ZV9zZCJ9&oh=ddf89d133f0605c96600f9584e9ec995&oe=57894DE3

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Non-Platform Appearances


During my year as Miss International, my focus has been to spread awareness on mental health and break the stigma attached to mental illnesses. These efforts required me to use my personal work experience and to educate myself on advocacy and global awareness. I obtained a partnership with a national organization that afforded me the chance to collaborate ideas for a common goal. The opportunities that were presented to me allowed me to obtain knowledge and a new perspective that not even graduate school could have given me. For this, I continue to be grateful for my year with the crown.

Although my priority was for mental and emotional wellbeing, I also wanted to diversify my year. It was important to me to advocate for our pageant system’s official platform (American Heart Association), to bring awareness to my sister queens’ platforms (Veterans and Volunteerism), and to also support other organizations that I personally love. From breast cancer walks, children’s hospital visits, hosting charitable galas, and red carpet events, I truly feel that I was able to spend my year supporting so many wonderful platforms. I want to encourage each of you reading to do the same.



Whether you walk away with the Miss International 2016 crown or continue representing your state or country, find some opportunities to inform yourself with different organizations outside of your platform. You will be in awe of the people that you will meet in the process. You will gain an education and experience that no textbook can teach you. And you can walk away knowing that you made a difference in the lives of others!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Our Past Two Years

The past 2 years for our family has been nonstop. On top of the already busy, nonstop life of a family with 3 children 4 and under (at the time 3 kids 2 and under), Justin decided to go back to school to get his MBA. He is our family’s sole provider, so he still had to work to support us. When he was accepted into the executive program at The University of Texas at Austin, I had a mix of emotions. I was happy. I was mad. I was stressed. I was proud of him. I was all over the place. I knew that it was going to be hard on him, but I also knew that it was going to be harder on me. Harder because instead of 5 days with me doing everything for them solo, it was now going to be 7 days because school was on the weekend. I was already tired and now I was getting ready to be even more tired.

Fast forward 2 years, with lots of bickering between one another and lots of me feeling like I was a single mom (this is me being honest, ya’ll), we are packing up the car and headed to Austin to finally watch him walk across the stage to accept his diploma. I am so proud of him! He worked so hard not only for this diploma, but also to make sure I stayed sane. He was tired and he still made sure that I was doing ok. A little side story, last July he needed to go to China for his school trip (part of the requirements). Well, it was during Mrs. International and without hesitation, he emailed the Dean and President of the university to tell them he wouldn’t be able to make it because he needed to be there for me. This year, during the same week as Mrs. International he will be in Romania and Moldova, but will be leaving a day early to hopefully make it back to Jacksonville in time to see me give up my crown. If ya’ll see him, he will probably be dog tired, but tell him how proud his wife is of him.

The truth is, the past 2 years were hard on us. We have both been pulled in opposite directions. I am over the moon that we are getting our weekends back to enjoy as a family. First on the boys list, a family camping trip. In a tent. Ya’ll that might be harder for me than the past 2 years.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tagline

To the contestants competing for the title of Mrs., Miss, or Miss Teen International, I hope you all have started to get in the habit of blogging. Each of the new titleholders are required to blog two times a week throughout their reign. For those of you who haven’t started blogging, I suggest you create a blog page and start coming up with good blog ideas that you feel will promote your platform, community service, and the International Pageant system. Another important part of each blog is your signature tag line. It will describe who you are and what you want others to realize throughout your year. I did a lot of research when choosing mine because I wanted it to make an impact at the end of each blog. Not only did I want to choose an inspirational quote, but I wanted it to come from an inspirational person. So, after quite a bit of research, I had my heart set on Audrey Hepburn.




I am so inspired by Audrey. She was a classy, poised, and clever woman, surviving World War II as a child by eating tulip bulbs. Her slender figure was actually the result of being malnourished as a child. She was a dancer, singer, spoke five languages, and was a gifted actress. She is one of only fourteen people to ever win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Oh, and she was a fashion icon! I absolutely adore everything she wore on screen and off, but above all of that, I am most inspired by the fact that that she was an amazing humanitarian, retiring from her acting career to do relief work for UNICEF and advocate for children all over the world. I close each of my blogs with her quote, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” She was the ideal image of grace, charm, and dignity. I could go on and on about Audrey. I would have done anything to be able to meet her.




When picking out your tagline, make sure it is something that shows who you are and that has a great story behind it. Your signature tagline will follow you throughout your year! I have incorporated mine into speeches and even one on one conversations. Audrey Hepburn’s quote that I chose will not only be my tagline for my year as Miss Teen International, but forever as just plain Jules Fletcher.





“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible,” – Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Running Into Your Past


A week ago, I was at the airport waiting for my flight to Los Angeles. As I was sitting by my gate, a familiar face came into my view. He was the Dad of one of my classmates from high school. We said hi and went through the normal conversation starters of those who haven’t seen each other in years. He then went on to bring up a previous relationship I had been in. I have not seen or heard of this ex-boyfriend in over 6 years, so I was puzzled as to why his name was being mentioned. I was asked if I was married yet, had children, and how much I had accomplished since graduating from high school. By the end of the conversation, I felt like I was needing to name all of my achievements to gain his approval. Once he left, I wondered if I had done enough, had I used my 10 years since high school graduation wisely, and was I considered a honorable alumni from the private school I graduated from.

It was not even 5 minutes later, that God spoke to me. I looked over to the seat next to me where my Miss International crown was sitting. I remembered why I was going to Los Angeles in the first place…for the different appearances I had spent time getting prepared for. I thought about the 2 degrees I had obtained since graduating from high school. The list went on and on. Most importantly, I thought about how I had not seen this person in a decade, so why was I letting him have influence over my thoughts and accomplishments? 


People from our past may come back in our lives. Whether it is a 15 minute conversation at the airport or to try to find a place in your current life. Do not let them negatively affect who you are and what you have become since you last saw them. Before you are tempted to doubt yourself, remember all that God has done in your life and the hard work you have put into being the person you are now!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunshine and Sunscreen

With summer here, it is important to remember to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. As I have grown older, I have become more diligent about making sure I have sunblock on and especially sunscreen on my face. Unfortunately, when I was younger, especially in college, I never dreamed of putting sunscreen on. In fact, I would wear tanning oil and wanted to be as dark as possible. I knew better back then, but now that I want to minimalize wrinkles, I am very proactive about applying and reapplying as needed throughout any outdoor activities.

There are literally thousands of different sunscreens on the market today. Finding the best sunscreen for you can sometimes be overwhelming. One thing you need to make sure of when selecting any sunscreen however is that it contains a multi-spectrum protection for both UVB and UVA. The next thing you need to consider is the type of activity you are doing outside. If you will be sweating or in the water you need to look for a sunscreen that is water and sweat resistant. You should also take into consideration any allergies or skin irritations when choosing the right sunscreen. Lastly, for protecting our sweet little ones from harmful rays I always choose a lotion style instead of the spray. I don’t want them inhaling any of the spray and I honestly feel like I can get a better coverage with lotion. If I don’t have any lotion on hand, I will spray it in my hand and then apply it on them. I use a stick for our faces.


You should apply the sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before being in the sun. Make sure to get the easy to miss places like the tips of your ears, back of your legs and tops of your feet. No matter how long the sunscreen is supposed to last, try to reapply every 2 hours. If you are in the water a lot, reapply more often. Remember, even on a gray and overcast day, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful rays make it through the clouds so make sure to apply sunscreen on those days as well.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Bullying

I have met so many amazing girls through entering the International Pageant system and I have been so blessed to get to know many of you. One thing that many pageant girls have in common and some have shared with me is that a lot of their peers don’t understand or support their pageant goals and some have even been bullied as a result of being in pageants. You may think, “Why? Why me? What did I do?” You may ask yourself, “What is wrong with me?” Well, I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you!



In most cases the person or people bullying you are just intimidated by your success and secretly wish they could achieve all that you have been able to. I have learned along the way that being confident in myself, my values and what I stand for makes me my own unique person. I don’t expect everyone to like me, however, I know that when I surround myself with people I share common interests with and who I can learn from like each of you, I am a better person. I have worked so hard becoming who I am and on what mark I want to make on this world. If you are bullied for being who you are, then be you even more. YOU are the one with the power, not the bully. We all want to be liked and accepted but the reality of life is that there will always be those who feel the need to pull someone down. It’s up to us to fix the cycle by looking more closely at ourselves, realizing our self-worth and our positive impact in this world.



Some people think pageantry is kind of this cliché thing and we're all pageant girls, but the life-skills, and interviews, and confidence, all of those things I've gained from pageantry and I know they're going to help me as I move forward in my life. Whether you like to sing, dance, draw, write, or volunteer like me, focus on YOUR happiness. Don’t give your bully one more second of power. Sooner, rather than later, I promise you will realize that the hateful words that once hurt you so deeply have become the very words that will motivate you to carry on just as you are. Now, put on your crown and rock the world!

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible.” -Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Children's Hospital Visits


As Miss International, some of the appearances I have been able to do is visit children’s hospitals. Since I interact with children on a daily basis, I have found so much joy in being around little ones! Their perspective on life, and how most are able to run and play without a care in the world, is something that we can all learn from. Although it is never easy to see children that are sick, I wanted to do something that would hopefully bring a little light into a scary time in their lives. Through my interactions with the patients and their families, I have gained continued compassion for what children go through when they are chronically or terminally ill.

I have also found my visits to be a humbling experience. I remember my visit to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I went to every room to visit the kids. After two hours, my head was throbbing from the weight of the crown on my head. I was literally having to force a smile on my face as I would walk into every child’s room. It got to the point that I thought I was going to have to take a break just to be able to take off my crown and relieve my headache. It was in that moment that I felt God speak to me. Here I was internally complaining about my headache from my beautiful crown, when there were children I was visiting who were fighting for their life with every breath they took. I then decided to change my perspective and deal with the pain, as nothing I was going through could compare to the pain the children were experiencing. 


I often think of that moment and many others when I am tempted to complain about a “bad day” or small pain that I am feeling. I never try to minimize my feelings as that is emotionally unhealthy, but it does help remind me that in an interesting way, I am blessed to have the problems that I do have, as they could be much worse. As I plan to visit more children’s hospitals in the future, I want to thank the children I have already visited. Thank you for inspiring so many people through the strength you show every day. You are all fighters, and I continue to pray for each and every one of you!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Girl Time

I adore my husband. I love when we can have date night. It doesn’t need to be anything lavish, just a simple dinner. I also love being able to get together with my girl friends. I think girl time/ friend time is so important. I have been so blessed my entire life with the best group of friends. My lifelong best friend, Shelly, and I have been best friends since 1994! We have experienced so much of our lives together. She honestly knows me better than I know myself and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t or couldn’t tell her. She still lives in South Carolina, but our friendship has not changed at all. She comes out to Texas regularly and we see her all summer when we head back to South Carolina. Justin is my guy, but Shelly is my person. Have ya’ll seen that Grey’s Anatomy episode?


For me, having a group, or even one, girl friend that you can get together with regularly or talk to frequently is a life saver. The ones that are in the same stage of life that I am. The ones that probably didn’t get to shower that morning because your kiddos decided to wake up before the sun did. Being able to share laughs, stories and yes even “complain about the lack of laundry your husband does” with a friend helps to make my week a little more fun. I know that we don’t always have the time to have quality time with our husbands, much less a girl friend, but just as it is important to nurture our marriage I think it’s important to nurture our friendships.


When you arrive at Mrs. International in a little over a week, you will be surrounded with the opportunity to meet an entire new group of girl friends! Seize the moment! See ya’ll soon, girls!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Black Light Dodge Ball

As Miss Teen International, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel nationally promoting my platform, “Be a Volunteer and Make Your Mark Through Community Service.” I have had a blast spending time with my peers and encouraging them to get involved in their communities. There are so many fun and creative ways for young people to make a difference.

My high school sorority, Delta Beta Sigma’s Charity Season is underway to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project, our national charity this year. We recently held a Black Light Dodge Ball Tournament and it was probably my favorite fund raiser ever! We wanted to include as many people as possible so we had several age brackets beginning with 3rd through 6th grade and ending with 7th through 12th grade. It was so much fun. All of the participants were all decked out in their neon and were ready to Play Some Dodgeball for a Cause!


This is my little, Ashton.

We tried to look tough…. 


Apparently, I am not a very good dodger. 

We had so much support from the community. A local church donated the use of their gym, while another church donated the use of their black light equipment. We were guests on the morning radio show to promote the event and our local newspaper advertised for us leading up to the event at no charge and even came to the event to take photos. It is so great when EVERYONE comes together for a great cause!

We are the Omega Chapter of Delta Beta Sigma.

The 3rd-6th grade participants

The 7th-12th grade participants. 

Choose a cause you’re passionate about and give back. Giving back is a great way to fulfill your community service requirements for school or clubs, build your resume, and make a difference in your community, so be creative and come up with unique and fun ways to get involved and “Make Your Mark Through Community Service.”

“Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher

Miss Teen International 2015

Professor for a Day


When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was to pretend to teach! I would have my stuffed animals and Barbie dolls sitting as I would proceed to “lecture” them on my big white board in my game room! I never thought to pursue a career in teaching, as I felt God calling me elsewhere. But you better believe that I jumped on the opportunity to play professor for a day when I was asked to teach the Abnormal Psychology class at Oral Roberts University! From a career perspective, this is an amazing opportunity. However, I had so much fun at the thought of getting to live out one of my childhood pastimes on a larger and professional scale!

It was not too long ago when I was in college and graduate school. So I thought about what I wish some of my classes would have been like and took that approach! Instead of doing a typical presentation that is lecture style, I decided to have a more interactive format. I wanted to the students to ask questions and brainstorm ideas together. I wanted them to truly learn what I was teaching them instead of just sitting through another class. I also found out ahead of time that the students had been learning about mental disorders in adults. Since mental health also affects children, I geared my class specifically towards this age group so the students could learn more about a population that they could come across in their future careers. As I was preparing for this class, I did a simplified version of my presentation to some of my 6th grade students at work. I figured that middle school students are WAY more intimidating than college students. So if I could get through 45 minutes with them, then I was sure the college students would be a breeze! All in all, my middle school students loved the presentation, and the college students had so much fun interacting, that it made for an awesome class. The professor told me that he is still getting positive feedback from my time with them.

It is opportunities like these that have made being Miss International such a blessing! I can’t wait to see what is in store as I finish my last few months!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Friday, July 15, 2016

Countdown to the Crown


We are getting closer and closer to crowning a new Mrs. International! My reign has absolutely flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was arriving in Jacksonville for a week of uncertainty. I had no clue what to expect, but by the end of the week I had made so many new friends and had the most fun! Win or lose it was the time of my life. I really wasn’t tired by the end of the day because I was so full of energy and excitement. Don’t get me wrong, the days are packed and long, but because I was genuinely excited just to be there I think my adrenaline got me through it.

I’m sure you all are finalizing your wardrobe and accessories for competition week. I know you are all working on your fitness and eating right, or at least better. Looking good is a big part of the week, but what is most important is your platform. Have you been working it? Have you been practicing your interview questions? Have you been making appearances or have you put those on the back burner?

I can promise you that the evening gown and fitness portion won’t win you the crown. While it will help boost your scores, you will get the majority of your score from your personal interview as well as the on stage question portions. Speaking of on stage portion, please make sure that you know what you are going to say for your 30 (ahem 27) second blurb on your platform. Waiting to figure it out until you get to competition week is NOT a good idea. You don’t have the time then and winging it is never a good idea. Also, listening to other contestants and stealing their words isn’t a smart move. Also, make sure your answer for the actual question doesn’t go over the allotted 30 seconds either because points will be deducted.

Preparing yourself to be the most well rounded contestant is a smart move. Give each area of competition the same amount of effort, but let’s face it we all lack in one area and exceed more in others. For me, I knew my weakest area was going to be interview because I had so many things I wanted to say. I needed to focus on the important things and make sure I left a lasting impression. I wanted the judges to know I was ready to take on the role that day of Mrs. International.

Always remember why you are competing and be true to yourself.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

AHA Richmond

During my trip to Virginia I stopped in Richmond at the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association to visit with Development Director, Lauren Schingh. I learned so much about events they have done and are planning to do to raise money for AHA. I was informed about some of the annual fundraisers they do in the area, like a fashion show featuring women who survived Heart Disease.


She gave me a big bag of American Heart Association goodies, including notepads, magazines, journals, pens, heart healthy recipes, and even fun facts about heart health. Did you know that you can spot a stroke fast by using “F.A.S.T,” Face, Arm, Speech, Time. Lauren gave me a lot of great ideas that I want to bring to the Arkansas Chapter of AHA. Thanks, American Heart Association - Richmond for your time and effort to fight Heart Disease as well as for my treats! It has been an honor to be a spokesperson this year for American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women.



“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible.” -Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015