updated 03/11/2013 AT 8:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/11/2013 AT 11:10 PM ET
Meet the new Bachelorette!
She started out as one of 26 women vying for Sean Lowe’s heart on The Bachelor, but now fan favorite Desiree Hartsock (known affectionately as Des) will be calling the shots this summer as the latest star of The Bachelorette.
“I just can’t even believe I’m here. With the support of everyone, it’s just such a blessing,” she said after Chris Harrison announced her on Monday’s After the Final Rose special. “I could never have imagined signing up for The Bachelor and having this opportunity.”
Overwhelmed by the cheering crowd, who stood up for her when she walked into the studio, Desiree had tears in her eyes. “If you’re crying now, we’re in for a long season together,” Chris said jokingly.
Then he asked her about watching the finale of The Bachelor. “I’m so happy for them,” she said. “I could only hope to have the love that they’ve found and I am very hopeful in all of this. And I do hope to meet the man of my dreams.”
“I do believe [in the show]. I’m ready, I’m open and I’ve seen it happen,” she continued. “I did realize that the feelings are real – the emotions that you go through. It is a real relationship and I’m going to have many of them! I know that it can happen and one of them will be hopefully my true love, as cliché as it sounds.”