Miss America 2022 July Travel Recap
After a short break following my month of travel throughout June, I hit the road again to participate in the Kukkiwon 2022 Taekwondo Expo in Virginia. For anyone not familiar with Taekwando and martial arts, Kukkiwon is the World Taekwondo Headquarters, established by the South Korean government as the official taekwondo governing organization.
I was invited to participate in a meet and greet followed by playing a role in the evening show. I had a great time during the autograph signing; meet and greets are one of my favorite things to do as Miss America. I love meeting guests and feeling their excitement. Though I often don’t feel worthy of the fanfare, I feel fortunate to be in a position to make the experience a memorable one for those I meet.
During the evening show, I had the opportunity to introduce a performance involving a boy with Down syndrome named Lee, who has a black belt in taekwondo. The dance was performed to a Korean song about the tender relationship between mother and child, and the performance was incredibly touching. Following the performance, I delivered a short speech and was honored with an honorary 4th Dan Black Belt alongside Congressman Greg Murphy. I had no idea I would be asked to participate in a taekwondo demonstration beforehand and began to panic when I saw breaking boards and a concrete brick! Congressman Murphy was up first and to my surprise, executed the stances perfectly and broke multiple boards and the concrete brick with ease. He set the bar pretty high, and I was terribly nervous. I ended up successfully breaking the board and even did it in heels! As it turns out, Congressman Murphy has studied taekwondo, which explains why he seemed to be a quick study!
The morning after the Kukkiwon event, my tour manager, Caroline, and I got up bright and early to catch the train from DC to Philadelphia. This was only my second time taking the Amtrak, my first being from Connecticut to New York for my first Miss America photoshoot in January. I really enjoy the Amtrak, I find it to be comfortable and I like looking at the scenery. It still blows my mind that you can take a train and pass through so many states!
Caroline and I got settled into our hotel and got ready for rehearsal with the Philly Pops. My role in the Philly Pops POPS on Independence concert was to open the show with the national anthem and to sing “God Bless America” alongside Ryan Shaw and Charlotte Blake Alston. To be totally honest, I was terrified to be performing at this level alongside professional performers. I don’t typically perform with a live orchestra or with other singers, so I felt inexperienced and unqualified. This was a big step out of my comfort zone, but I ended up having a great time performing with such talented musicians. The conductor, David Charles Abell, the Philly Pops members, Ryan Shaw, and Charlotte Blake Alston were a treat to work with. It is experiences like this one that remind me why I love performing so much, and make me wish I could be a doctor AND a Broadway star!
Dress from Viper Apparel
Dress from Viper Apparel
On the 4th of July, I started out at the Celebration of Freedom ceremony at Independence Hall where I performed “God Bless America”. I reunited with Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, Marcelle LeBlanc, which was long overdue!
Dress by Viper Apparel
After the ceremony, Marcelle and I made our way to our floats for the Philadelphia Salute to Independence parade. My float was this epic giant sparkly high heel that was covered in flowers. I was blown away by the quality of the float! During the parade, I had a microphone and sang “God Bless America”. I initially sent tracks to alternate between “God Bless America” and “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus but I was told to just sing “God Bless America”. When I arrived at the float, I found out that I needed to sing “Party in the USA” as well, which I unfortunately don’t know all of the lyrics to (I know, I know, can I really call myself Miss America if I don’t know the lyrics to this classic song of my generation?). Everything ended up working itself out, but Marcelle rightfully had to shame me for not knowing the lyrics to “Party in the USA”. It is now my homework to learn the lyrics!
After the parade, I met the Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia and Councilmember David Oh to receive a citation from the City Council of Philadelphia.
Dress from Viper Apparel
I spent a few days in Dallas for the Rebel Talent Casting Call with the Rebel team. This was my second visit to Dallas this year, my last visit also being related to Rebel Athletic as they are based in Dallas. Previously when I visited Texas, it was quite chilly and not very humid. This time around, now in the dead of summer, the heat and humidity were suffocating! I applaud those who brave the Texas heat during the summers.
The Rebel Talent Casting Call lasted two days, and I judged alongside Rebel staff including: Gordon Steinecke, Jamie Andries, and Abby Hoeffner. We were selecting from a group of young ladies (and a few boys) from around the country who were auditioning to be Rebel ambassadors. Honestly, I was a little nervous to be taking on the role of a judge! This is only the second time I have acted as a judge for a competition during my year as Miss America, the first time being when I judged the Great Alaska Talent Competition, a competition I won 5 years ago. Ultimately, I had a great time and really enjoyed getting to meet so many talented and driven young people! In addition to the casting call itself, there was a Soiree for Rebel Talent and Ambassadors and I was able to reconnect with Makaila Nichols, Rebel spokeswoman. Makaila and I did a meet and greet with those attending the event, and we each gave a short speech. I enjoyed having time to meet with families and young Rebel talent; I believe I even met many future MAO titleholders!
I also got the chance to speak with Karen Noseff Aldridge, founder and CEO of Rebel Athletic. It is so cool to see fellow Asian American women in leadership positions, and succeeding in business. The Rebel team put on a really wonderful event, and I am so thankful that I was able to be part of it.
I returned to Alaska for the first time since June, marking the start of one month on the road. Before leaving Arizona, I packed my suitcases to the brim with (hopefully) enough clothes to last 4 weeks of events and travel.
I started out by attending the final day of Special Olympics Alaska’s Camp Shriver; a 2 week sports camp for students with and without disabilities. I have been attending Camp Shriver with my brothers since 2017 and even though I missed most of camp this year, I was happy to attend the final day and assist in handing out certificates. It was great to see old friends and to watch my younger brother lead camp.
I also attended the Arc Birthday Bash, as the Arc of Anchorage celebrated its 65th birthday. The Arc provides services for people with intellectual disabilities, and my brother Brendan has been benefiting from the Arc for many years. I enjoyed the festivities and reconnected with so many friends
I was invited to Washington DC to attend commemorative events for the Korean War. Flying from Anchorage to DC takes around 9 hours, with connections, and I ended up flying on the 25th which was my 21st birthday. I was fortunate enough to have my flights sponsored by Alaska Airlines who were so kind as to fly me first class both ways; not a bad way to spend your birthday! I arrived late at night on the 25th and headed straight to my hotel room and was surprised with flowers and gifts from family, friends, and the Miss America staff. It was a lovely end to my 21st birthday.
The next morning, I got up bright and early to rehearse with the Army Band in preparation for our performance the following day. Following the rehearsal, I was scheduled to have lunch at the Pentagon with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Grady and his wife, but a last-minute meeting canceled our plans. I ended up having some extra rest time before the evening’s event, so it worked out well. In the evening, I attended the Wall of Remembrance Dedication Banquet to honor Korean War Veterans and Gold Star Families. I performed “God Bless America” at the banquet and met many veterans and their families.
The following day, I attended the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The remembrance wall features the names of more than 36,000 Americans who died supporting the War and over 7,100 Koreans who died while augmenting the Army. During the ceremony, I performed “God Bless America” again, this time with the U.S. Army Band and the Soldiers’ Chorus. After the ceremony, I packed my bags and prepared to fly back to Alaska to mentally and physically prepare for my flight with the Thunderbirds.
I got home a day before my flight with the Thunderbirds so that I could begin prep. As someone who easily gets motion sickness, I needed enough time to properly hydrate, eat well, and sleep. The Thunderbirds team gave me a long list of DOs and DON’Ts to prepare for the flight and I followed those instructions to a T, because I was terrified of vomiting on camera during my flight. The day of the flight, I woke up at 5:50am having slept a solid 8 hours and made the 30 minute drive to JBER (the Air Force / Army base in Anchorage).
When I arrived on base, I met with the Thunderbirds crew and began prep for my flight. I first met with Thunderbirds Public Affairs Officer Captain Kaity Toner who gave me an overview of how the day would run. After, I met with Thunderbirds Flight Surgeon Captain (Dr.) Travis Grindstaff who taught me the anti-G straining maneuver (AGSM) to combat G-induced loss of consciousness. I was fitted for a suit and learned about the different parts of the helmet and how the oxygen mask functions. Then, Thunderbird #8, Major Jake Impellizzeri, ran through our flight profile and what all of the controls inside of the aircraft do (AKA – what not to touch 😉 ). Finally, when it came time to fly, we drove to the runway and I met more of the Thunderbirds team who were preparing the aircraft. There were plenty of local news stations present to document the flight, and I posed for some photos. Before takeoff, I took my “hero shot” with my name on the jet. Truthfully, the suit and harness was so incredibly tight (for good reason) that I could barely stand up straight and struggled to get up the ladder and into the passenger seat.
Before the pilot sat down and we began preparing for take-off, there was a significant period of waiting time. I hadn’t fully processed the day until then, and I realized I was a little bit nervous. Obviously I wasn’t going to chicken out at the last second, but I could feel my heart rate beginning to rise as the suspense was building. I went to grab my phone to take a photo and realized that my phone was in my inner suit which was now completely covered by the g-suit (a suit with air bladders that inflates to combat g-forces). Luckily, my younger brother was nearby and offered me his phone to use for photos during the flight. Once Maj Impellizzeri was situated in the plane, we prepared for takeoff. I still haven’t fully mentally prepared for the flight and before I knew it, we were shooting down the runway at nearly 700 mph.
The flight itself was incredible – the views were insane and I got to see my home from a much different perspective. At one point, I even got to use the aircraft’s controls in the backseat and fly! Overall, it was such a unique and memorable experience. I am so lucky and so thankful for all who made my flight possible!
After my flight with the Thunderbids, I attended both days of the Air Show in Alaska. I spend the entirety of each day taking photos and signing autographs, meeting those who came from around the state to watch the show. It was great to be back in my home state and see tens of thousands of Alaskans gathered together.
Emma Broyles is Miss America 2022