I may be small, but I've got giant plans. Plans to shine!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Senior Center / Miss Lake Festival Pageant

And summer marches on! In less than a month now I will be moved back into my lovely apartment in Fair Commons at Anderson University, recuperating from my first day of dance intensive. This fall, Anderson University School of Music is putting on a musical revue of Irving Berlin's most beloved works entitled "I Love a Piano", and I couldn't be more excited about it! I will hopefully be able to wipe the layer of dust off of my tap shoes for this musical. Oh, how my feet ache to dance again! Or should I say, ache to ache again. :) It should be a phenomenal show, however, and it is running the first two weekends in October. Come support me in my last musical at AU!

This past Saturday I stopped in and visited some wonderful residents of The Laurels, a senior center in Defiance.  It was such a joy to sing for the residents and to speak about my recent experience at Miss Ohio. They were so receptive, and a few eager women even sang along. I loved it! They are so warm and talkative and always brighten my day a bit while I try to brighten theirs as well.

This visit was a very special one for me because I was able to see a special mentor of mine who happens to be residing in The Laurels for the time being. Jim Estep, a long-time supporter and scholarship sponsor of the Miss Ohio program, also happens to be my former voice instructor. He sort of helped me to discover my voice! I transferred from a tiny Christian school to Defiance High School, and I was referred to Mr. Estep by a fellow student. He then proceeded to ask me, "Where have you been?!" I took that as a compliment, but only let it push me to become the very best vocalist I could be. He is funny, compassionate, and brutally honest, and has such an ear for music. I would not be where I am today without his guidance, so it was such a gift to spend a few hours with him when my formal visit ended.

Last night, July 19, I had the opportunity to go see the Miss Lake Festival pageant in Celina! I had never gone to that pageant before, and I just so happened to be free last night, so I packed up my parents and my friend Nicole, and we headed down to Celina. It was a great night. A hot night... but a great night. :) All I can say is Thank God for the person who invented air-conditioning. God bless you.
Ellen Bryan did a stunning job as the emcee for the evening. She has such a sparkle when she is onstage! It was also great to see my Miss Ohio buddy, Devon Stansbury! She has grown so much from the start of her pageant journey, and she has developed into quite the beautiful dancer! Wow, such elegant routines she performed last night. I was also jazzed to see Erica Gelhaus, former Miss Ohio AND my Miss Ohio roomie in 2009! Such a beautiful lady inside and out! She is always such a joy to see.

The contestants last night did an amazing job. They were all very polished and kept their cool in that very toasty venue. I was impressed. :) Congratulations to all of the girls. Some of the award winners that I remember are: Onstage question winner - Kirsten Fennig; Interview/Talent - Jena Sweigart; 3rd RU - Kelsea Ellen; 2nd RU - Kirsten Fennig; 1st RU - Emily Werling; Miss Lake Festival - Jena Sweigart

Great job everyone, I am so grateful for the opportunity to watch you compete!

(Sorry for the picture, Jena! Haha, but congratulations!!)

Until next time! <3

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lovin' Summer

If that cute little face doesn't brighten your day, then I don't know what will! That is my Jayda bug! She is the beautiful 17 month old daughter of my first cousin, Megan, and she is growing up way too fast! I am so excited to get to spend a little more time with her this summer, as she is changing so quickly. It is so wonderful and refreshing to spend more time with all of my family, since my schedule settles down significantly during the summer.
Since Miss Ohio is over, I feel as though my summer has officially begun! I have a more strict schedule in keeping up with the three online classes I am taking this summer, and also I am working 23 hours a week for my job. As well as the schedule, I have more free time to relax and enjoy the summer as I please! For one of my online classes, which is a Bible course, I had to learn about another religion different than my own. I had to research that religion and immerse myself in it, finding commonalities and differences between us. I chose Islam. This religion has always been linked with so much hatred and so many misconceptions, so I decided to get my own perspective. I attended a 2 hour seminar on Shariah (the Muslim way of life) in Toledo, OH at the University of Toledo. It was an incredibly fulfilling and engaging experience! I was nervous walking in because I knew that we had our theological differences, but they were some of the nicest people I have ever met, and we treated each other with the utmost of respect. I truly learned a lot about their beliefs and their way of life, and many of my pre-existing stereotypes were shattered upon entering that room. I was thankful that I had the opportunity to attend, on a personal level as well as an educational one.
Other than my college courses, as I mentioned, I am trying to enjoy some fun, social aspects of this summer vacation as well! :) This past Fourth of July weekend, I was blessed enough to have both Friday and Monday off from work, so I took off for Delphi, Indiana to visit primarily my boyfriend and his family, but also got to see a few college friends as well! I left right after work on Thursday and stayed until early this past Tuesday morning, when I awoke and left by 7 am so I could clock in at work at 10 am. Let's just say 5-hour energy drink was my best pal that day. ;)
I had such a blast over the holiday weekend, though! I did everything from a fun double date, babysitting Brett's little five-year old sister, watching Brett beast the drums, bass, guitar, and vocals at a gig on Friday, play Sims, write music, visit local landmarks, see my friends, sing in church, watch Transformers 3, stargaze, get sunburned on the lake, slip and slide, cook out, have a wonderful, resourceful date in Indy, and watch the best fireworks ever!!! It was a fabulous weekend, one full of many wonderful memories and it was a much needed recharge for my batteries. :)

In terms of my job, I am loving every minute of it! The kids who I have the opportunity to serve food to are fantastic and adorable! I love seeing their faces light up when they get a free meal. One of the perks of my job is that I get to take home any leftover food that is unused that the college would just throw away. So today, I was sent home with 2 whole bundles of bananas! They were quite ripe, so I decided to make some delicious and healthy oatmeal banana muffins with a sugary banana glaze for the top!! I may make some banana pudding tomorrow. :) I am also reading a wonderful book right now by Francine Rivers entitled, "Lineage of Grace" and it is about 5 Biblical women who were unlikely candidates for greatness, but through God's mercy and love in their brokenness, they had a hand in changing eternity. It focuses in on Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba, Rahab, and Mary. I love how I can actually bake and read during the summer, things I can never enjoy during my busy schoolyear.

 In upcoming news, this coming Saturday, I will be judging the Miss Pride of Montpelier pageant! This pageant is a wonderful opportunity for girls of all ages to develop poise, stage presence, confidence, and a sense of self worth through pageantry! They compete in a few different stages of competition, the oldest "Miss " division is the only one with a talent portion. I am very excited to judge, as I always think it is quite eye-opening to be on the other side of the table. :) It should be a great experience and a fun resume-builder as well. I cannot wait to see some of my Miss Ohio sisters who will also be judging the pageant as well! Reunion!!

I may be formulating a new platform idea, so in the future, you may see a few blog entries with me working on my new platform. But until then, I will let you wonder in anticipation. :) I am hoping to plan a few nursing home visits here in the near future, so be on the lookout for a new update. In the mean time, remember THIS is the day the Lord has made! Even if it may seem like a terrible day to you... you have so much to be thankful for! God bless!

Courtney - 07/08/11

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hey, June!

I feel like my summer has finally arrived, now that Miss Ohio has concluded. I was out of school the entire month of May, but due to strenuous Miss Ohio preparation in terms of shopping, mock interviews, working out, doing appearances, and catching up on current events, I was holed up inside of my house much of the time. But now, summer has begun! :) 

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity of making an appearance at the Defiance Relay for Life. This event has always intrigued me, but I have never had the opportunity present itself for me to be able to take part in this wonderful event. It is an issue that lies very close to my heart, because my wonderful grandmother lost her battle with leukemia in the fall of 1996. I was blessed to have had her a part of my life for 6 wonderful years, and I constantly think of her, and try to make her proud in everything that I do. I know she would be so proud of me with my recent Miss Ohio accomplishments, especially due to the fact that a lot of my musical talent and inspiration stemmed from her. She was a lovely soprano, and I hope she can hear me sing from Heaven. :) 
In other news, I started my new job on Monday! I was blessed to have a job guarantee waiting for me after Miss Ohio concluded, if another job didn't pan out on Saturday night. ;)
The job I have is serving as a driver to transport food from Northwest State Community College to a site in Fayette, Ohio and in Bryan, Ohio. At the Bryan site, I serve food to low-income children who are in need of a meal. Here is an article of more explanation on my job:

"In 2009, NOCAC (Northwest Ohio Community Action Commission) reinstituted a program to serve lunch to low income children in Northwestern Ohio. In 2010, the program is expanded to eight sites. The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Education, which also administers the school and pre-school lunch programs. They work under the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Division,
to carry out its mission to provide children and needy families better access to food and a more healthful diet through its food assistance programs and comprehensive nutrition education efforts. Those sources provide some reimbursement for the service. Other grant funds are being pursued in order to supplement the reimburse for meals. All low income children, age 1 through 18 (21 if there is a diagnosed disability) may eat without charge." (NOCAC "CONNECTIONS" newsletter, April 2011, Deb Gerken)

In essence, I get paid for roughly 3 1/2 hours of driving and 1 hour of serving food, which also allows me the opportunity to see their faces light up as they receive a meal. It is a job and community service all rolled up into one perfect package! It is by no means going to bulk up my savings account in huge ways, but I am extremely grateful I even have a job at all at this point, due to the difficulty I was having in finding a job throughout the month of May. And, in reality, I get more satisfaction and fulfillment out of helping others than any paycheck ever could grant me. So this is my dream job, for this summer.

I am travelling to Lafayette/Indianapolis area for a long Fourth of July vacation to visit my boyfriend and some other college friends. It will be a much needed vacation to recharge my batteries. Hopefully you will be seeing an update within a few weeks about that weekend, and also any other appearances I may be able to manage to schedule around my job and my three online college courses.

God bless, and thanks for stopping by!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Top 10!

Wow, what a crazy few weeks I just had!! :)
First off, before I departed onto my Miss Ohio journey, I did two public appearances, and one private send-off party to prepare for the pageant. I planned a visit to a local senior center named Island Parkway Manor and sang for the residents there. I also spoke about my pageant journey and just visited with the lovely ladies who came to hear me sing. It was such a blessing to see their faces light up as I
visited with them.

I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by Rick Small, radio personality who DJ's on the morning show of Mix 98.1. He is such an enthusiastic person who truly supports me in my dreams for the Miss Ohio crown. He definitely brought
more hometown support my way through his zealous interview.

My Miss Ohio experience this year was absolutely FANTASTIC!

First off, I was paired up to room with Chelsi Howman, who was such a fabulous roommate! Not only was I pumped up for the competition by hearing her awesome banjo playing skills, but she had such a genuine, humorous aura about her, and we really got along well! She always made me laugh throughout the week, and I think we helped each other stay motivated for the big competition. This is a really awesome thing to be able to say, considering I was contestant #3 and she was #4! But we were so supportive of one another, truly! I think I was her biggest fan. :)

My chaperone was Sue Cleland and my hostess was Lori Stephenson, yet again. These two were utterly fantastic as well. So supportive and hilarious and uplifting, they definitely made my Miss Ohio much more enjoyable and helped me keep my sanity. :) Sue going out and buying my fake eyelashes, and Lori surprising us with an icecream cake truly made my week.

In bigger news, I made the TOP TEN!! What?! :) Yes, it's true!

The Lord has truly decided to shine on me this year. I may be as surprised as anyone, but I really worked hard this year, and set my hopes high. I kept my focus off of the other girls, and off of the negative websites, and off of being the best in swimsuit or in talent, and truly tried to tweak my overall appearance so I could project the best overall, consistent image of my true self, and shine for my Lord. He has blessed me so much in allowing me to be in the top 10. I am so proud of myself for all of the hard work I have done to get to where I am, and I am excited to continue working towards Miss Ohio 2012. :)

I already feel like a Miss Ohio because of two sweet girls who approached me after preliminary night 3. I thought I recognized them, and sure enough I did. They had met me at the Waterford Retirement Community when I went there as Miss Fallen Timbers last year for Miss Ohio Community Service Day. They helped me hold my microphone while I sang and played the piano. I remember they were in awe of my piano playing, and I encouraged them to take lessons! That was over a year ago, and now they approached me and told me proudly that they had both started taking piano lessons and had barely stopped playing since! I had made an impact in their lives! My platform was set into motion in a tangible way in that moment. :) These are the moments I cherish and live for.

At the end of the day through moments like these, I remember it isn't all about the crown. It isn't all about the number of awards you receive, or even how much money you attain. It isn't all about how many people understand why you succeed or why you fail. It is about the lives you touch while being a titleholder. Who knows what those girls are capable of in the realm of music, or beyond! Reaching people and making an impact; that is what it is all about.

God bless you all!!

(Check out my facebook, Envisioned Memories, and Ohio Media Group for pictures and videos of my journey) <3

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Hello one and all!!

I hope you are enjoying this weather! It is finally feeling appropriate for the time of year!
I have been a busy bee preparing for Miss Ohio! I am so very excited to take that stage and bring all that I have to offer up there with me. Over the past 3 weeks of hard exercise and eating healthy, non-Anderson University food, I have shed a few pounds and really toned up as well! I couldn't be prouder of myself for exercising such willpower! And as of today, at this very moment, all of my shopping is done except for fake eyelashes and perhaps a shirt for my dance production number. I even have my basket completed, except for a container to put it in! I feel very good at this point.

My wonderful directors, Randy Schroeder and Amy Shaw, have been tirelessly working with me every week that I have been home to prepare me for my interview. I have another round of mock interviews this Thursday evening. And next Tuesday night I have a send-off party where I will be modeling my wardrobe and performing my talent song for a small group of family and friends who cannot make it to Miss Ohio. I couldn't be more excited to be representing my hometown and to have such awesome support behind me! I even had the wonderful chance to visit Mr. Jim Estep and show him some of my wardrobe pieces and work on my talent song with him. He is not in the best health at the moment and will not be able to attend Miss Ohio this year. This saddens both of us, because if it weren't for him, I wouldn't be in this pageant system at all. But it was great to visit him.

I also had the opportunity to visit Defiance Senior and Junior High Schools a week ago and speak on the importance of music in schools and life in general. They were a very receptive audience and I was able to perform 4 songs for each class. That was a lot of singing, but boy was it fun!
One boy raised his hand after I finished singing and he asked, "How come I got goosebumps on my arms when you sang really high?" To which I replied, "Well, I would like to think
that happened because you liked my singing!" He then replied, "Oh... yeah, yeah! I think you're right! Wow, you sang so loud, and with no microphone... but so good!" All of the kids, and I, giggled.

Those are the times that I remember why I do this! It is for those funny moments with children, where I can connect with them and make them laugh, and thus present my message about music in a fun way!

This weekend I am attending the wedding of two of my friend's and colleagues at Anderson University, but on Sunday I will be back to attend my high school alma mater's graduation ceremony and then zip over to a senior center and perform for the residents there. More updates to come!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's MAY?!

Hello everyone!

This is my very belated blog post to synopsize what has been happening in my life over the past two months. I was hoping to do an update in April, but my schedule, in all sincerity, has been about the equivalent of two people's schedules. I have been going on a NYC tour with my college's choir, taking 20 credit hours, participating in a world premiere of an opera with a role I was handed a month before the premiere due to a girl stepping down from the role, participating in a weekend opera improvisation workshop, preparing/practicing for my end-of-year voice jury, auditioning for the fall musical, finishing up my recital attendance requirements, working various recitals, accompanying three voice lessons and playing for their juries, writing a 10 page music history research paper, arranging a hymn for a full orchestra for my final exam, playing in the Anderson University Wind Ensemble's spring concert, and finishing up my 25 hours practicum in high school choral methods, all while trying to maintain some semblance of a social life with a sparkling crown balanced nicely on my head.


But, I made it! I'm here, and drum roll please... I attained a 3.8 cumulative GPA and managed to pull off an A- in my Music History class! That is the hardest class I have ever had in my entire academic career, and I worked my hiney off! So glad to see it paid off. :)

Here are some pictures from my busy
few months, not pageant related:
((Lamenting over my short legs outside of Radio City Music Hall, preparing for clarinet improv. in opera improv. workshop, sporting my groundhog gear after leaving Punxsutawney, PA, at Times Square with my best ladies, and Skating at Rockefeller Plaza in NYC on our first date))

In pageant related news:

I had an opportunity to jet away for a quick weekend off campus to support the girls participating in the Sweeps pageant this year. It was so exciting to be in the audience, and all of the girls did a lovely job! I was only able to stay for the first competition, but I was very proud of all of the girls!

I also had the chance to go to the Miss Ohio forum at 4H Camp Ohio! Yet again, this was one of my highlights of my year as a titleholder so far! I love how this atmosphere really breaks down the walls that are between the girls. We even had to wash all of our makeup off at one point.
It truly brought us all together on a deeper level than simply as competitors. I loved the crazy scavenger hunt, the challenge course, the delicious s'mores, and the sort of Miss Ohio "boot camp" where we had to sign out name a million times, deliver an imprompu speech, and apply our makeup in 5 minutes. It was truly a great weekend of bonding, and I can proudly say that we all got along very well.

Also, just yesterday was the Miss Ohio Community Service Day/Bowlathon! This is also one of my favorite days! I love going to bless the community by visiting with them and singing for them. I had the chance to get a little closer to Jessica Nelson (Miss Cuyahoga County) and Kylie Johnson (Miss Muskingum Valley) at Lexington Courts. We visited with the residents, I sang a few songs (sadly, neither of them could perform!), ate lunch, and continued to visit before
heading to the bowling alley. Bowling was fantastic as well! We all raised quite a bit of money for the program! And my nerdy humor even won my team some Subway gift cards! (I named our team the "Northwest Ninjas"!)
Overall, it was a fantastic day! We all seemed to have a great time together and truly enjoyed each others company. I cannot wait for Miss Ohio week to get here!!

I have my second mock interview tomorrow night. I have my entire competition wardrobe in place, and now it is just tweaking and buying odds and ends until that wonderful day of June 10th rolls around. :) I have a few appearances lined up at nursing homes and a possible radio interview and a possible hospital visit. So I will ideally be updating once more before THE week begins. :)

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my pictures below, and God bless you! I have obviously been very busy at school, and that is preparing me in many ways for Miss Ohio, but I have also been actively working out and brushing up on my current events. I feel very excited for Miss Ohio this year. The first year, in fact, where very little anxiety about the actual pageant itself is plaguing me! I think this definitely has to do with the maturity I have gained throughout this past year, and also my relationship with God being that much stronger, along with the help of some amazing friends and family. God, and my support system, really helps me keep everything in perspective and gives me a peace about things. :)

(For more pictures, check out my facebook page!)
Courtney Monk
Miss Northwestern Ohio 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Marching on!

March is already here! Wow, where did the time go?
My life has been busy, which at this point should go without saying, but I am having a lot of fun in everything I am involved in here at Anderson University. I am a soprano in my university's auditioned-based, 44 member "Chorale" and we are busily preparing for our spring break tour which kicks off this weekend! I am very excited about this tour because it is going to be taking us to New York City for 3 of the days! We are lucky enough to be staying in a hotel for a few nights that is right across the street from Carnegie Hall. It is going to be a blast of a trip, full of plenty of music-making, but also a lot of social time and bonding as well. The link for the tour is here with our schedule (http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=189689061056130)
The school of music that I am a part of here recently wrapped up our opera production of "Tartuffe". It was a great show, full of a dynamic group of talented singers and actors. I was a member of the chorus and an understudy for one of the principal coloratura soprano roles. It was a such a great experience for me. Albeit time-consuming, it was definitely a great chance for me to grow and expand as a performer and to get to know people I generally would not get the chance to spend time with. I can see my voice developing and maturing more and more each year with the help of operas like this, and it is very exciting! As much fun as it was, it is nice to have my evenings free again, however. ;)

This past Tuesday on March 1st, I decided to volunteer at my local IHOP for National Pancake Day in support of the Miss America organization’s partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network. I called the IHOP here in Anderson and asked if I could volunteer and be put to work in any capacity. They were happy to have me come in and had me serving as an actual hostess and seating customers. I was responsible for telling the customers about the charity that they could donate to. In addition to supporting the national IHOP whose proceeds went directly to the Children’s Miracle Network, this local IHOP decided to support a local crisis pregnancy center to help women cope with their unplanned pregnancy and prepare for life after the delivery. It was a great cause and I was grateful to be of service for 2 hours within my busy day!

I have been plugging away at filling out my Miss Ohio paperwork as well. Getting little pieces of it done whenever I can is helping it not be so daunting on top of my other schoolwork and practice. I met with my executive directors last weekend to talk over my game plan for preparing and shopping for Miss Ohio, and I am very excited about it. I am going to start going evening gown dress shopping here soon. I have a lot of ideas already, and I am excited to get going on that. Within these next 2 months of school, I will be investing a lot of time in my schoolwork of course, but I will try to do a few more appearances when I can. I am planning on trying to attend the Sweeps pageant in April if I can get away that weekend, and I am also trying to plan a visit to one or two different children’s hospitals (one in Ohio and one in Indiana) so I can touch the children through song and storytime! When those things happen, you can check back here for an update! Thanks for reading, God bless!