Miss Teen Arkansas International Erica Brewer, a junior at Lonoke High School, competed for the title of Miss Teen International in Chicago last week.
"Unfortunately, I didn’t place in the top 10, but I still felt like I won," she said. "It was good to be there, and have the experience."
The winner was Miss Teen Alabama International Caroline Crowley.
When the top 10 was being announced at the finals on July 28, Brewer said what went through her mind was there were a lot of beautiful girls there. They all worked hard to get there, so it was up to God who should be the winner, she said.
"I knew if I didn’t win, I still tried my best and it’s still a honor to be going home with my Arkansas crown," Brewer said.
She said she will remember all the friends she made. They all plan to stay in touch through Facebook, and they exchanged telephone numbers. She said she will remember being on stage and having the opportunity to be there.
"It was an once in a lifetime opportunity," Brewer said.
Although it was a week full of appearances and rehearsals, it was fun meeting people around the country and world, she said.
One day, she said, all the contestants visited the John Hancock building, the Water Tower Mall and the Chicago Boys and Girls Club. At the Boys and Girls Club, each contestant was paired with a little girl, then they talked, ate lunch, did arts and crafts, signed autographs and took pictures with them.
She said she became best friends with Miss Teen California International Amanda Jenkins. She said they were a lot a like, even if they lived so far apart.
A challenge was trying to keep her feet from getting blisters because the contestants had to be dressed up and in heels the whole time, Brewer said.