Outgoing Miss America Savvy Shields is leaning on an important piece of advice as she prepares to give up her crown, although she can’t remember exactly who said it.
“You don’t become Miss America for a year … Miss America becomes you, and then you continue being yourself,” she recalled being told by a former titleholder.
Shields, who will place the crown on her successor’s head Sept. 10 at Boardwalk Hall, said that advice has guided her through her year as one of the most recognizable people in the United States.
“I’ve been trying to keep that mindset throughout my whole year so that I stay true to myself and continue to stay Savvy the whole time,” she said.
During the past year, Shields traveled throughout the country and internationally. She visited troops and sick children, appeared at parades and other events and carried out the other responsibilities that come with being Miss America.
One place she especially loved visiting was Atlantic City, she said.
Josh Randle, the new president of the Miss America Organization, said he sees Miss America as an ambassador of the city — someone who represents the best of what the city has to offer.
And Shields said she embraces everything that comes with being the ambassador of one of her favorite places by the ocean.
“Every time I’m in Atlantic City is the time I feel most like Miss America,” she said. “It’s so engrained in the culture and traditions. … I’m forever grateful for the home that Atlantic City has given me this year.”
Her trips to the resort were sandwiched between trips to 47 states in the nation and visits to Jordan, Kuwait and Germany.
It’s a tough job, but one she says she has cherished since the day she was crowned.
Her only regret? She wishes she could remember every detail of her entire year as Miss America.
“It goes by so fast and it’s so jam-packed with so many appearances, airplanes and hotels. Sometimes your memory fails you,” she said. “I’ve been trying to record as much as I can in my journal and on social media, but I look back and it feels like I’ve crammed five years into one year, and other times it feels like I was crowned yesterday.”
But Shields won’t be leaving without making sure her successor is prepared for the challenges ahead. She said the most important thing the contestants can do going into the competition is pace themselves, because the entire thing is a mental game.
Pacing yourself is also good advice for whoever becomes the new Miss America, she said.
“Go slow and don’t drink coffee too fast,” she said, laughing. “It’s very tempting to watch the year run by you really quickly. Remember to take time for yourself and to rest.”
Shields plans to go back to the University of Arkansas in January to finish majoring in art and business, and wants to use the rest of her scholarship money from the Miss America Organization to get her master’s degree. But first, she will go on a long-planned hiking trip with friends in Utah and California.
“I’ve been in a lot of airports and cities and hotels in the past year,” she said. “I’ve really missed being in the outdoors.”