I am the New York State Miss Heart of the USA Pageant Director. I started competing in pageants after I graduated in 2001 from Barbizon Modeling School. My first pageant experience was with American Coed Pageants, in which I was crowned Miss New York City Teen 2004 and 2005. I was later named Miss New York Teen, and went on to represent the state at nationals. I’ve competed in many other pageants since, including Empire Royalty and Queen of Queens. I was the 2012 New York Miss Heart of the USA Queen. I recently competed in the Imperial Beauties of America National, and was crowned 2014 National Miss Imperial Beauty of America.
I’m also a mother to my six-year-old son, Christian. I’m the Parent-Teacher Association President at his school, Wave Preparatory Elementary. I hold a bachelor’s degree in social service administration with a minor in social welfare from Medgar Evers College.
For the past 13 years, I have been a Girl Scout troop leader, and recently became a Cub Scout leader, as well. I’ve participated in various charity races from the Revlon Run/Walk to the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I enjoy giving back to my community, and do it as often as possible.
I decided to join Miss Heart of the USA’s director team because I believe it is a unique program that teaches its participants they are more than girls with cute faces who wear crowns and sashes. They are dynamic, and represent the future. I believe in Miss Heart of the USA’s motto; “Pageantry with a purpose.”
Why did you start working with the New York Miss Heart of the USA Pageant Program?
After several years of competing in pageants, I had to reprioritize and dedicate my time and energy towards raising my son, but the excitement I got from being involved in pageants never diminished over that time. I decided I wanted to work for a program I had competed in previously. Miss Heart of the USA is unique in the sense all of its pageants serve as food drives. Participants are encouraged to work within their community to collect non-perishable foods to help prevent hunger.
What does the New York Miss Heart of the USA Pageant Program do?
Miss Heart of the USA teaches girls the value of community service. We believe you are never too young to start giving, and that it’s never too late to get involved; which is why there is an age division for every participant. Our Queens work with organizations like the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, local food banks, rescue missions, etc. To date, our program has distributed over 10 million non-perishable food items to nonprofit groups throughout the U.S. We couldn’t have done that without the assistance of the families who support our program. Our highest honors are titles that are earned. At every Miss Heart of the USA pageant we award a Queen of Hearts, which is the Queen who collects the most non-perishable food items the day of the pageant; and our spokesmodel, which is the Queen who promotes our program by referring the most contestants. Our spokesmodels are vital to the success of the Miss Heart of the USA pageants. The more contestants we have, the more food we collect, and the more people we are able to help.
What are your overall responsibilities with the New York Miss Heart of the USA Pageant Program.
As New York State director, I’m responsible for promoting our program, hosting several preliminary pageants, and identifying individuals to hire as preliminary directors to produce local pageants. The winners of the preliminary pageants continue on to compete in the state events. This year’s New York Miss Heart of the USA State Pageant is to be held on Sept. 27. The contestants who win at the state pageant will represent it at the national event. Other responsibilities are to engage and prepare contestants and their families for competition. I also organize the logistics for each pageant conducted, which includes securing a venue, judges, helping contestants and their families orient themselves with the program, and making certain every contestant has a rewarding experience. Additionally, I help the girls choose local activities and programs they may want to volunteer for.
Were you, and are you now, involved with any other community groups besides the New York Miss Heart of the USA Pageant Program?
Since I graduated from Medgar Evers College, even more of my focus has turned toward raising my son, and helping out at his school. Taking an active role at Wave Preparatory Elementary has provided me the opportunity to interact and work with other parents to make our children’s school and our community, as a whole, a better place for everyone. While enrolled at Medgar, I was involved with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and the NAACP.
How long do you see yourself being a part of the New York Miss Heart of the USA Pageant Program?
I’m 28 years old, and have been involved with pageants over the past 13 years of my life. I recently assumed the role of Miss Heart of the USA New York State director, and am dedicated to building our program’s brand in the northeast region. I want to demonstrate to the public we are not like the pageants seen on TV reality shows. We teach our girls the importance of being involved within their community.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Rockaway?
Two words: disaster preparedness. Rockaway is a seaside community, and Superstorm Sandy showed Rockaway needs to be better prepared for the next storm. My family and I took that for granted. Although we evacuated our home during the blackout, we weren’t flooded out of it like so many others who were less fortunate. In the aftermath, I volunteered in the recovery effort. As I traveled throughout the peninsula, I saw the extent of the devastation the storm caused. Educating our fellow residents about the importance of preparing in advance for a potential emergency will help to save lives and ease the burden of waiting for assistance from relief agencies.
What’s the best part of living in Rockaway?
I enjoy the convenience of living by the shore. My family and I have lived in the Rockaways for nearly 14 years. When I was younger, I used to take my baby sister and cousins to the beach; which I now do for my son. He and I have spent much of this summer riding our bikes along the boardwalk, and building sand castles. One day, we hope to have the opportunity to compete in the sand castle building contest that used to be held every year.
What advice do you have for people who aren’t part of a community group but are interested in getting involved in Rockaway?
My advice to them would be to not let anything hold you back. For years, I have traveled to and from the peninsula, attending several different schools across the city: Russell Sage Junior High School in Forest Hills, William E. Grady High School in Brighton Beach, and two colleges. Throughout that time, people would make comments about me living on the other side of the world, or in the middle of nowhere. I never let those geographical hurdles discourage me from serving my community. Rockaway is my home. My residence here is a badge of honor I proudly wear. It’s easy to think of reasons why you can’t do something. You have to challenge yourself to defy the odds, and overcome any obstacles that may be in your path. So long as you’re involved in your community, you can have a greater influence on its betterment.