2019 Miss Exeter candidate Anna Payne, sponsored by Bank of the Sierra

I moved to this town when I was 6 years old, with an overwhelming fear that I wouldn’t be able to fit in or make any friends. I was terrified of what was possible and what could be impossible for me. But despite the fear surrounding coming to a new town, I was welcomed with open arms and a loving, wholesome community. I was introduced to a group of people with the kindest hearts and most passionate ideals. I was taken in as a part of this family, as a girl who felt alone, embraced by the very people I feared would ignore me. This town is so much more than a few buildings hidden within the orange trees. It’s a family, a home.

Through my 11 years of schooling in Exeter, I’ve come to realize what friendship and family are. Through the music programs of Rocky Hill Elementary, Wilson Middle and Exeter Union High Schools , I’ve discovered an undeniable love for music. Participating in school choirs and plays, I knew my place lied within our community’s music programs. From Christmas concerts with the tradition of singing Joy to the World to playing the role of Seahorse in The Little Mermaid, I’ve grown more and more as a performer. I’ve been an active leader and member of the Chamber Singers choral group at EUHS for 3 years, a place in which I found a home. The choir room has become a safe haven for me, as well as the one place I’m able to express my talent freely.  Through my participation in our high school’s cheer squad, I was able to expand my friend base, as well as break down the barriers of stereotypes within our school walls. At the end of the day, we were all the same and we could be whatever we want to be, especially with the support of our friends and the community.

Over the last few years, I’ve pushed myself beyond what I had deemed possible. I signed up for AP classes which may seem easy to others but the idea was honestly pretty daunting to me. I was afraid that my work wouldn’t be sufficient to get a passing grade, but instead I was motivated to push myself harder and strive for better. Although not necessarily the top student, I allowed myself to go past that standard and learn more than I had ever imagined. And I didn’t have to do it all by myself. I was reminded that other people had the same fears of inadequacy and they would be there for me in turn. We could work together and also depend on one another for guidance and encouragement. I learned what true teamwork and friendship were and what it should be. Thanks to these experiences and my goal to work harder than ever before, I was chosen to represent the Rotary Club and Exeter itself at Camp Royal, a 6-day leadership camp with leaders from around Central California this summer. This pushed me past my comfort zone, as well as opening me up to more experiences. I was forced to make decisions with all the freedom in the world, building the camp with our own abilities. I made friendships and discoveries about myself I never would have expected to find.

I came to know people for who they truly are, rather than who they portray to be. I learned that everyone has their demons and it’s up to us to help them find the light when they feel as if they are in the dark.

This is why I plan on attending the University of Pacific with a major in Psychology so I, too, can help people feel comfortable and loved and respected, like this town did for me. I wish to become a child psychologist, helping children find their way and overcome any obstacles they may have faced, while also preparing them for the future. I want to make a difference for the people in my life by helping them through their struggles, guiding them to self love and happiness.

Exeter isn’t just a town, it is my home, with the people I have come to love and the person I am glad to be. It would make me beyond honored to be able to represent my home and show everyone just how much I truly love it.

2019 Miss Exeter Candidates

Simone Cox  |  Chloe Lamb  |  Hannah Mahony  |  Haylee McFall
Lyncoln Miller  |  Anna Payne  |  Megan Robbins  |  Meghan Tilschner  |  Morgan Weldon


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