Kevin Foley/ABC
Aili Nahas
March 11, 2013 11:10 PM

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.”

The bridal stylist, 26, caught Lowe’s eye early on, and their first one-on-one date to an art gallery (where Sean pulled a prank!) seemed to solidify their connection.

PHOTOS: Does New Bachelorette Desiree Have a Shot at True Love?

Then, things got a little rocky on the hometown date when Hartsock’s brother accused Lowe of being a “playboy.”

During a rose ceremony he called "excruciating", Lowe sent Des packing that week, leaving her stunned and tearfully pleading, “Don’t let me go.”

Now, the good-natured girl next door – who was a clear favorite at the Women Tell All special – will follow in the footsteps of previous Bachelorettes Trista Sutter, Emily Maynard, Ashley Hebert and many more in the hopes of finding her true love.

“I can handle them, oh yeah,” she said of meeting 25 men on The Bachelorette, which will air this summer. “Bring them on!”

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