After capturing the title in Orlando, Florida, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2019 London Hibbs shared her thoughts on community service, the arts, and loving who you are right now
Pageantry magazine: Well, you’re Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2019. What do you remember most about standing center stage awaiting the announcement?
London Hibbs: I just remember looking out into the audience and thinking how crazy it was that I was actually standing on this stage, because last year I came to the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Competition and watched in support of Miss Texas Outstanding Teen 2017. And I just remember looking up on that stage and feeling so inspired by all of the girls who were up there and thinking, “Wow, how cool would it be if someday I could stand on that stage and compete for this incredible opportunity.”
So, to think that just a year later I was standing up there awaiting these results, and then to hear my name called, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. It was a really crazy experience, and I had so many thoughts going through my mind, of course happiness, excitement, and gratitude.
PM: How did you become interested in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Program?
LH: Several things actually interested me in the competition. This is my second year competing, so my first year I competed as an at-large titleholder in the state of Texas. I really only got involved a couple of months before the state competition, and I placed first runner-up, and I absolutely loved it. Then, I competed in my first local pageant. I won the title of Miss Dallas Outstanding Teen, and then I won Miss Texas Outstanding Teen just about three weeks before corning to Orlando for the national competition.
One thing that really interested me in the competition was the service aspect with Children’s Miracle etwork. I actually started volunteering with CMNH when I was about 11 or 12. In my hometown, I would dress as Queen Elsa or Princess Belle or Princess Aurora and surprise kids that were in CMN hospitals and sing their favorite Disney princess songs with them and play games and interact with them. Seeing the smiles that it put on their faces really touched my heart.
When I found out that CMN was the national platform of the MAO Teen organization, I knew that it would be super cool for me to compete. So coming from a background of having done so many classical vocal competitions and master classes and things like that, I wasn’t exactly sure how the breakdown of competition worked. But, I just wanted to have this opportunity to be with kids and land a scholarship, like my mom when she competed in scholarship pageants. She actually earned a full ride to Southern Methodist University. She went there, and all of the money that her parents had been saving for her college education, my grandmother ended up getting to use.
So my grandmother and my mom got to attend college for the first time at the same time all because of scholarship pageants like this one. And that’s kind of what interested me. I knew from my first competition at Texas Outstanding Teen last year that this is what I wanted to be doing, and I had so much fun doing it. So it’s a huge honor to be here as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen now, two years later.
PM: Can you speak about your work so far with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen?
LH: Absolutely. As far as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to about five states so far, so that’s really cool. The first state that I visited, that wasn’t Florida or Texas, was Tennessee. I visited the Monroe C. Carel! Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Going into the hospital, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to be doing that day. But I didn’t really care. If I just got to make one child smile then that was more than enough for me. Because that’s truly why I was there. But I ended up having this incredible experience that really touched my heart. I was brought into the Seacrest Studio, which is from the Seacrest Foundation that provides a really fun activity for the kids and the patients at the hospital to be able to interact with local or national celebrities that come in and do this live radio and TV talk show. So it was really cool. I was brought in as a special guest, not really knowing if I would actually get to interact with other kids that day. And this little girl stumbled upon the set of the Seacrest Studio and saw me in there. She came inside and her name was Oakly She had said that she had been seeing advertisements that I was going to be here throughout the hospital all week, and she was so excited.
She came in and sat down in the chair next to me, and we started the talk show. I had this opportunity to ask Oakly some questions about herself. She asked me about me and about being Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. At the end I kind of brought it all home with how I originally got involved with this organization, which was, to me, the power of a princess. And I said, “Oakly, who’s your favorite princess?” She said, “Oh, Elsa. I love Qyeen Elsa.” And I said, “Do you want to sing an Elsa song with me?” So we sang “Let it Go” and we sang “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.” It was the most heartwarming experience that I have ever had with a child.
And it just meant so much to me seeing this little girl be so excited and being able to completely forget about everything that was happening to her and put sickness so far out of her mind that all she could think about was how fun it was getting to play princess with Miss America’s Outstanding Teen and be Elsa for a day. That was a really, really touching experience that I had and definitely the highlight of my year so far.
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