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pageantry interview ● betty cantrell Reflecting on Her Reign Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell looks back at a year of service, style, scholarship, and success D uring a year of service traversing the globe, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell embodied the ideals of the Miss America Scholarship Organ- ization through her charitable work and support of our nation’s troops. As Betty prepares to crown her successor, she graciously relives her exciting year and discusses her next goal of conquering Nashville as a country queen. Pageantry magazine: When we originally spoke, the title of Miss America was still a surreal mo- ment. How do you remember your crowning mo- ment now? Betty Cantrell: Well, I never get tired of watching the video, but now it’s just kind of normal, I guess. I hate to say it, but it’s like, “Oh, yeah. You know, I’m Miss America,” but it’s not like a crazy feeling anymore. PM: You’re a wonderful spokesperson for Children’s Miracle Network. What impact has this had on your life? BC: It’s had an enormous impact on my life, and it’s defi- nitely changed me as a person this year. I’ve grown so much this year, more independent and just more responsible. I’ve grown more aware of the world around me and how I can make a difference, for sure. PM: Have you been able to address your platform, “Healthy Children, Strong America,” on a national level? BC: Absolutely. This year I’ve actually partnered with the American Farm Bureau and we’ve done so much to make kids more aware of where their food comes from to begin with. Growing up on a farm myself, it just made sense. Since partnering with the American Farm Bureau, we’ve gone to school after school and different farms all across the country spreading the word about farming and agricul- 68 PAGEANTRY ture and where kids’ food comes from, because it doesn’t come straight from Wal-Mart. It comes from our farmers. Helping teach kids how to grow their own food out of the ground... it’s really been an amazing experience. PM: The Miss America Organization is a great support- er of our troops through the USO. Tell us about your ex- periences with the organization. BC: I actually went on a USO tour to eight different coun- tries in eight days. We went from country to country, and we performed a show for our troops. Hopefully, we brought them a little taste of home and a smile to their faces, espe- cially being able to personally say thank you to them for their service to our country. PM: What are some of the highlights this year? BC: I’ve had so many highlights this year, including my USO tour and my work with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. But the red carpet events, the CMA’s, the AMA’s, ACM’s, Billboard Awards—those were very, very memorable for me because I am aspiring to be a singer one day in country music, so it was really cool being there hang- ing out with all the celebrities that I’ve idolized in the music industry my entire life. PM: And New Year’s Eve? BC: New Year’s Rocking Eve... I spent with Ryan Seacrest in