It has been almost a year since Ebony Mitchell, the 2022 Miss Dogwood, was crowned as Miss Arkansas. Now as Mitchell finishes out her year on top she looks back at what she has called a "life changing" year.
Mitchell will finish her term on June 10, when she crowns the next Miss Arkansas and returns to the workforce, but is always eager to talk about her time wearing the crown.
During Mitchell's reign as Miss Arkansas she has spent the time traversing the state and visiting different communities.
"I think I've been around the state of Arkansas at least three times," Mitchell said. "I've driven over 50,000 miles in the car from Bale (Chevrolet). So it's been amazing."
Mitchell, a 2022 graduate of John Brown University, has done many things that she never would have the opportunity to do and marvels that her picture is hanging in the state capitol.
Miss Arkansas duties
Mitchell's duties as Miss Arkansas involved traveling around the state and doing school assemblies, Mitchell said.
Mitchell normally gives a 30-minute to an hour-long speech on her platform, which is online and internet safety, or about Miss Arkansas as well as whatever the school is struggling with at the time, such as test prep, she said.
"So I do a lot of schools. I've visited hundreds of schools as Miss Arkansas, from tiny Bruno-Pyatt, Arkansas, to the bigger schools in the Fort Smith School District, Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas," Mitchell said. "So I've been everywhere to every type of school you can imagine, which has been awesome."
Along with speaking at schools, Mitchell also has done a lot of galas as well as random things in Arkansas. One such thing was skydiving in Russellville at Balloons over Russellville, Mitchell said. Mitchell's main job as Miss Arkansas was to be a representative throughout the state, she said.
Mitchell visited almost every city in Arkansas, she said. Mitchell has been to her hometown of Harrison a dozen times, all over Little Rock, central and western Arkansas as well as far north as Blytheville to as far south as Lake Village, she said.
Serving as Miss Arkansas has taught Mitchell about how far she can push herself and what it means to be a representative, she said. It also taught her not to take herself too seriously.
"When you first enter the organization or the job, you think you have to be the perfect Miss Arkansas," Mitchell said. "But people realize that's not possible. And I think people appreciate the authenticity of a person, especially at schools."
Mitchell also said if she as Miss Arkansas can be real and authentic it helps people understand that they don't have to be picture perfect or a perfect person but to be the best that they can be.
"So it's taught me a lot," Mitchell said. "It's taught me a lot about who I am and what I can offer."
Mitchell said she loved her time competing as Miss America, saying the girls were the best.
"There were all 51 of us because we also have Miss D.C. in there," Mitchell said. "And I talked to every single one of the state representatives and they're all so intelligent and beautiful and kind and talented."
In Mitchell's class were attorneys, future doctors, teachers, business leaders and educators. Mitchell mentioned Hannah Edelen, Miss Kentucky 2022, who serves on her school's state board and is described by Mitchell as amazing.
"At Miss America, you get there and you realize everybody here is amazing and talented and anybody could be Miss America," Mitchell said. "So we're just here to enjoy the experience and make friends in this incredibly unique situation that we're in."
Mitchell shared the statistic that a person is more likely to have a son play in the Super Bowl than having a daughter compete in Miss America, which made Mitchell appreciate her experience at Miss America.
She did not make the top 10 so Mitchell doesn't know where she ranked but was very proud of her performance and enjoyed dancing on the Miss America stage, Mitchell said.
Platform and the most impactful cities
When Mitchell was in junior high school a friend of hers was stalked by an online predator, she said. This is what led her to start advocating for online safety and social media safety and awareness.
Mitchell wanted to shed some light on how important it is to be safe online, especially for high school and junior high school kids who would soon apply for college or entering the workforce or tech school, she said.
"They don't really realize that even though you don't think your employer or your future school is going to look at your social media, that is just the way of life now," Mitchell said. "I was at a conference and someone who was elected to state officer had to resign her position because of her social media page. So it's so important."
As Miss Arkansas Mitchell got a resolution on the Senate and House floor. Senate Resolution 6 and House Resolution 1028 recognized Miss Arkansas 2022 Ebony Mitchell, according to the Arkansas Legislature's website.
Mitchell said she has gotten a lot of great responses because they deal with this issue every single day.
"When I was in high school, it was a little bit of a problem," Mitchell said. "But now that social media is so big and there's so much that goes on with online bullying and things being said online, things being sent online, (kids) struggle with that in school every single day."
There were two cities that impacted Mitchell the most were Harrison and West Memphis, she said. Mitchell said since Harrison was her hometown she visited all the schools there when she did her school tour.
When Mitchell went to her old elementary school all of her old elementary school teachers were waiting for her outside to greet her which Mitchell found sweet.
Another impactful moment for Mitchell was when the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission came to Harrison in 2021 and brought a lot of good attention to the city, Mitchell said.
"That was one of the driving forces of me even wanting to be Miss Arkansas, to change the narrative of my hometown," Mitchell said.
When Mitchell went to West Memphis, she met a little girl in third grade at Bragg Elementary School who was so excited to meet Miss Arkansas she started bawling, Mitchell said.
Everybody Mitchell has known her entire life in Harrison has been supportive and is happy to have a Miss Arkansas from Harrison.
Beyond Miss Arkansas
As Mitchell finishes out her time as Miss Arkansas she has already planned out her future. Mitchell will return to the workforce, probably in a nonprofit, she said.
Mitchell said she has some exciting stuff coming up that she can't share yet but she will remain in central Arkansas. Mitchell is also considering pursuing her doctorate degree since she has a lot of scholarship money left over, she said.
She also has some advice for the next Miss Arkansas: soak in every single moment because it goes by quickly.
"Every day is so jam-packed with so many events that your year just flies by," Mitchell said. "It's a job and it's a lot; it can be overwhelming at times. But you just have to remember of the unique situation that you're in and the opportunity that you have to make a huge difference in Arkansas."
Mitchell also advised to make an impact where the road takes her because even a two second conversation to someone may leave a lasting impact.
She wanted to say a big thank you to the city of Siloam Springs, Mayor Judy Nation, everyone at John Brown University, the Herald-Leader, the Rotary Club of Siloam Springs and the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce.
"I feel like Siloam is my second home," Mitchell said. "Everyone has been so supportive this year of me and embracing Siloam Springs and the Miss America and Miss Arkansas organization. It's been amazing."