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By Tami Farrell

Home, Sweet Homecoming

Tami's whirlwind travels bring her back to Phoenix, Oregon, to share hugs with family and friends, collect the keys to the city, and reconnect with her roots.

It is funny how quickly my dreams became a reality when I was crowned Miss Teen USA 2003. Never in a million years would I have imagined I'd be walking the runways of New York's fashion week, or that I would have the opportunity to spend a Saturday night goofing around with the New York Yankees. While in the Big Apple, I've experienced things most girls dream about. For me, all these wonderful experiences have made me realize how much I miss my family and friends. Sounds crazy, right? I guess since I've been creating such amazing memories, I've really just wanted to share them with the people I love the most. So, you can imagine how excited I was to finally be on my way back home to Phoenix, that little town in Oregon that I have grown to love and even miss a little bit.

Crater Lake - Even Miss Teen USA needs time out to kick back during a very busy homecoming schedule. Tami enjoys one of her favorite spots.

The trip from New York to Oregon took a little over seven hours. I was tired and surprisingly nervous as my plane touched down at the Medford airport. My nerves quickly vanished when I saw the smiles across my family and friends' faces. I was embraced by my mom and dad for the first time in months, and it felt so good to be home. "Welcome home" signs paved the way back to Phoenix. I fell asleep that night as soon as my head hit the pillow and had the sweetest of dreams.

The next morning after a quick breakfast I was off making appearances, visiting sponsors, and even meeting with the mayors of both Phoenix and Medford, the two towns where I grew up. I was presented with keys to both cities! The next stop was at my high school... you wouldn't believe the butterflies in my stomach! It was my school's homecoming pep assembly, and I was a special guest. The senior boys, who were dressed in togas for spirit week, carried me on a bed of leopard pillows out into the center of the gym. They fanned me with palm leaves and helped me over to the microphone so that I could speak to my peers for the first time. All the applause and cheers I received as I stepped up to the microphone made me feel right at home, and my butterflies quickly disappeared.

My trip definitely didn't slow down from there. I spent time visiting my old elementary and middle schools. I worked with several of the charitable organizations I had supported while I lived in Oregon, and I had countless television and radio interviews. I even had the honor of visiting with the governor of Oregon, who surprised me with a custom-made bat and signed baseball! (How did he know how much I liked baseball?!)

As my homecoming visit came to an end, I had the opportunity to watch as the dreams of two more beautiful women came true. I went to my state pageant and crowned the new Miss Oregon Teen USA, Lorie Thomson, who, like me, also received the Miss Congeniality award! As a bonus, I watched as Jennifer Murphy, a young woman from my hometown, was named Miss Oregon USA.

Now armed with thousands and thousands of hugs and good wishes from family, friends, and the people of Oregon, I prepared to go back to New York and get back to work! It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!


Miss Teen USA 2003 Tami Farrell writes this column exclusively for Pageantry magazine. The popular Miss Oregon not only won the national title last August, she also captured the Miss Congeniality Award as well. As a youth advocate focusing on self-esteem, anti-violence, and anti-drug issues, Tami is working with organizations throughout the U.S.A. to help communicate the importance of safe living, educational, and social environments.

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