2018 was a year filled with so many unforgettable moments. There is no way I could fit every special interaction, trip, or experience into one succinct write-up. In conjunction with 2018 coming to a close, here are eighteen of my favorite memories from this year in random order.
1. I won Miss Idaho on June 9th , and on June 12th , I flew back to UC Davis to take my finals. Something I will never forget is walking into my Chinese 06 final and having all my friends jumping up and down in congratulations. Instead of using the final moments before the test to study, my classmates went around trying on my crown and sash. Even my professor checked out my new accessory before administering the test, and now I will never be able to think about college finals the same.
2. Steel Pier Slingshot: I love rollercoasters. After a week and a half of rehearsals and long days at Miss America, nothing sounded nicer than being thrown into the sky from the benign confines of an open ball. Miss Utah and I hopped into the Steel Pier Slingshot and were flung into the Atlantic City skyline at 100 miles per hour screaming. I’ve got to say, at 225 feet in the air, all the stress and exhaustion from Miss America week faded away. I returned to the ground feeling lighter and stress-free. All the screaming ended up giving me a hoarse voice the next day for my private interview with the judges, but the sense of euphoria I experienced as a human slingshot was undoubtedly worth it.
3. My First Marriage Proposal: During my second parade as Miss Idaho, the Eagle Fun Days Parade, one father pushed his son from the crowd in front of my parade car and shouted, “Marry my son!”. The poor kid was so embarrassed and tried to run away, but his father mercilessly continued to shove him towards the middle of the road. I said yes, but sadly my car kept driving, so needless to say, I don’t think it’s going to work out.
4. When I think of all my expectations for my year as Miss Idaho, having a nail product named after me was definitely not on the list. Red Aspen named one of their new nail dashes, “Nina on Cloud 9” in honor of my placement at Miss America. Red Aspen’s mission is to inspire women to stand up, stand out, and stand together by uniting passion with purpose. They name all their products after inspirational women, and I am so honored to be considered one of them.
5. As Miss Idaho, I have autographed many things: hats, foreheads, phone cases, footballs. The most memorable thing I have signed was an ice skate. At the ice skating rink in Sun Valley, a group of children all wanted me to autograph their skates. I was surprised considering I spent the last thirty minutes stumbling across the ice, yet they still thought I was cool enough to permanently tattoo their ice skates.
6. A hilarious moment that I can’t help remembering every time I drive my Miss Idaho car happened the night I won Miss Idaho. After the show concluded, I was instructed to drive the Miss Idaho car to my hotel for the night. When I went to sit in the car from Lithia Ford, I knocked my head against the ceiling. I couldn’t fit into the Miss Idaho car, and quickly realized that the vehicle used for the past two Miss Idaho’s wouldn’t work with my 6ft height. Thankfully, Lithia Ford switched cars the following day, and I narrowly avoided a year of driving like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
7. The entire evening of September 9th , finals night at Miss America, is a night I will never forget. One memory that always makes me smile is the time spent backstage before I performed my talent on national television. I was called last into the Top 10 which meant I had a prolonged amount of time to wait backstage before performing. Normally, I am incredibly nervous before playing the piano. However, that night I could not stop smiling as I waited in the dark for my turn on the bright stage. I never thought I would ever be good enough to perform the piano on national television, and the emotions I experienced in that moment are so rare, it is a feeling that will stay with me forever.
8. Having my name announced as Miss Idaho 2018 was a particularly special moment for me. I may be the 69th Miss Idaho, but I am the 1st Asian American Miss Idaho. This year, I am honored to be a representative for my state and all its constituents.
9. My favorite excursion during Miss America week was undeniably the evening spent at the Linwood Country Club. I got to check an item off my bucket list when I drove a golf cart with Miss Arizona and Miss Connecticut. Speeding along the green with two of my dear friends exceeded my bucket list dreams.
10. As a state titleholder, I get photographed a lot, but some of my fondest memories happen when I am the one behind the lens. At Miss America, I was notoriously known as the go-to photographer, and nothing makes me happier than capturing moments for other people, especially when those people are my stunning sisters.
11. Another Miss America memory I will always cherish are the moments that followed my announcements into the Top 15 and Top 10. While the camera caught my stunned reaction and psychotic waving, it failed to capture the slew of screams from my family, director Christi, Miss Idaho board members, and Outstanding Teen, Chloe erupting from the audience. It didn’t matter that I did not win Miss America. These people made me feel like one.
12. Thanksgiving Day: Holidays are usually about celebrating with friends and family. This year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to do something for families in Idaho and spent the day serving a Thanksgiving lunch for people in need of a meal. For me, this year is about something bigger than myself. I am beyond thankful for the job of Miss Idaho, and I will always remember spending this Thanksgiving doing something for others.
13. Excluding tennis, sports are not my forte. This year, I unsuccessfully threw the first pitch at the Boise Hawks baseball game. Even though it was a colossal failure, 2018 was the year of trying new things, and at that, I succeeded.
14. For most people, 21st birthdays are indelible occasions. I turned twenty-one on August 7th and instead of the traditional celebrations, I spent the day volunteering at the Idaho Foodbank’s Picnic in the Park program, shopping for my Miss America wardrobe with my executive director, and attending a Miss Idaho board meeting. It may not have been the 21st birthday I had dreamed about, but being Miss Idaho is a far more rewarding dream.
15. The five days I spent in Sun Valley for the Jazz Festival was hands down the best trip I have had as Miss Idaho thus far. All the memories I acquired there were made possible by my chaperone, De Zborowski. Thank you, De, for making Sun Valley a highlight of 2018.
16. There are many things I did this year that were new experiences, but standing center field for the Idaho Potato Bowl’s coin toss was a truly unforgettable one. I have never really watched a lot of football, but I am so grateful to the Idaho Potato Commission for letting me experience new things and develop new passions.
17. All of the visits I make to Boise’s St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital are special moments for me. As an ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, I hope my time there brightens up a child’s hospital days. These visits mean the world to me, and I feel so privileged to get to experience part of theirs.
18. And finally, being called as the new Miss Idaho is the moment that started the string of incredible events to follow. Not a day goes by where I am not grateful to be your Miss Idaho 2018. Here’s to 2019, making each day as your representative count, and creating memories to last a lifetime.
All my love,