Dowagiac queen ‘blessed, shocked’Published 7:11pm Sunday, February 12, 2012
“I was so excited, stunned and overwhelmed,” new Miss Dowagiac Erica Ann Greenwood said Sunday. “Words can’t express how I feel, except blessed and shocked.”
She was processing Miss Congeniality when one crown swapped for the other.
“I had a few tears going because I was so excited for final five. It was amazing to be part of the 18 contestants, to share the experience. It was not expected, so I was honestly in shock. I was content with Miss Congeniality. I was so thrilled when Courtney got crowned second runner-up, then Hope first runner-up. This is exactly how I pictured it. I was waiting for them to crown either Charity or Sam, and they crowned me. It wasn’t real. It was a dream.”
Home is the scenic “Swamp” on M-62 East, which once belonged to her great-uncle, conservationist Frank McKaye.
“We’ve lived here eight years or more,” Erica said. “Before that, we lived on Dutch Settlement in a farmhouse.”
She is a proud product of Kincheloe Elementary School.
Punctuality is her pet peeve, so she is seated, awaiting the arrival of her court and directors, wearing a wristwatch from her jewelry collection, her personal protection assured by her fierce dog, Chip. “It’s better to be early and ready.”
The audience doesn’t see interviews. Erica “felt mine could have been better. I was a little stumped by ‘Out of all your accomplishments, which is your most gratifying, which is your least gratifying and why?’ I didn’t know what to say to the negative-slanted second part.” Judges asked about leadership because she was a tennis team captain, as is Hope Daniel.
At 5-foot-8, Erica is an inch shorter than Michala Froehlich.
Colorful dresses made Saturday “the night of sparkles,” she said. “I picked mine last year for prom. I went to Sentiments in Niles and was thrilled to find it because it’s regal and fits my two-sided personality. I’m really upbeat, outgoing, then the other side is more reserved, proper and appropriate when need be.”
Something her subjects might not know about Erica, who works as a hostess and waitress for Lindy’s, is her need for “alone time.”
Her dress was white, with “a hint of blue at the bottom.”
In fact, the blue flower has some “subtle” yellow.
This busy Sunday disrupts Erica’s Sunday routine of church followed from 3 to 5 p.m. at The Timbers of Cass County. “Volunteering is key to living a fulfilled life,” she said in her platform. “During the past two years, I have spent over 160 hours volunteering.” It started to fulfill a National Honor Society (she’s treasurer) requirement, but blossomed into after-school chats, manicures, delivering mail and the dice game Bunco. “I’ve always enjoyed the company of elderly people.”
Erica divides her senior year between Union High and Southwestern Michigan College, taking psychology, sociology, speech and world religions.
She wants to attend Grand Valley State University to eventually become a psychiatrist. “When I was younger, I was ready to be a teacher because I loved helping people and I’m very social.”
When Contestant 16 felt nervous, her stage mom, 2008 Miss Dowagiac Lori Key, counseled her to “take a deep breath and exhale.”
Though not dancing now, “When I was about 5 we actually danced at the Miss Dowagiac pageant. We each got a Beanie Baby. It’s on the corkboard in my room.(The pageant) is such a great tradition, one of the last memories with your graduating class.”
In her spare time, Erica likes to paint and draw. “I don’t cook. If I had to cook, I’d make grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese. I do laundry for my mom,” Kimberly, with whom the Scorpio shares her Oct. 29 birthday.
Older sister Alyssa, born on New Year’s Eve, shares hers with the world.
Erica doesn’t have a favorite TV show, but she enjoyed “The Titanic” because of her admiration for actress Kate WInslet. “Remember the Titans” is “also a great movie.”
“She’s so poised and a strong role model. They wanted her to lose weight to pose for a magazine and she said no. They airbrushed her to make her look slimmer and she was upset. I would have been as well because it’s not honest — and you need to be honest in everything you do.
“I’m thrilled to be a role model. I feel I’m going to represent Dowagiac well. At the Elks at the Afterglow, all the little girls wanted their picture with me. It’s a huge honor.”