Sunday, December 13, 2009

Katipunan Simbang Gabi

It was over a decade ago when I attended my first official Simbang Gabi in the Philippines. This week I had the chance to relive the experience with Katipunan and the Knights of Columbus Santo Nino Council. Complete with a performance by the Children of Teatro Sanbayan and Lolos and Lolas, music by the Santo Nino Choral Ensemble, the Immaculate Heart of Mary School gym was essentially transformed for the Christmas mass celebration!

During my on-stage interview I recalled how lucky I thought I was growing up in the Filipino tradition, opening at least one present after mass and before we went to sleep on Christmas Eve. I also mentioned how a strict schedule of classes, piano lessons, track and field and extra curricular activities, coupled with family dinners every night left little room for getting into trouble. I went on to talk about how my extended family and the community has rallied in support of my endeavors in education and pageantry.

Thank you to Katipunan for welcoming me once again in celebration of our heritage.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Katipunan 40th Anniversary Ball

Sampagita (our national flower) Ball-- a perfect way to usher in another 40 years of linking our culture and a new found one in America. What started as 20 Filipinos huddled in a small room at the Fil-Am building on Broadway Street has flourished into the largest organization of its kind in the state.

I have my recent press to thank for the invitation to the celebration as it uncovered an accomplishment for which the Filipino community is very proud. I've said so many times in my interviews that my title has been a remarkable platform for not only sharing my personal experiences but showcasing my heritage as well. I thank you for recognizing my promise and leadership by naming me as the recipient of the 2009 Trailblazer of the Year Award. I was geniunely shocked at the honor but welcome it as further motivation to continue on this path. Watch out for my upcoming feature in the Pinoy Herald!

Thank you to Tita Kenny and her husband (go Greyhounds!), President Belle Owens and his Excellency, Ambassador Willy Gaa for a great evening! I just hope I get an invitation to next year despite some mis steps on the dancefloor-- I have never todo-todo'd in my life so if anyone can offer lesson on Filipino dance I'd appreciate the help! :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Y of Central Maryland Turkey Trot!

I woke up with a pretty severe cold but it was well worth braving the weather for the 14th Annual Y Turky Trot in Bel Air! I was joined by over 1,500 runners and walkers from around the area. And it wouldn't be a proper turkey trot without indians, a running can of cranberry sauce, a group of gentlement wearing kilts and a herd of reindeer!

Not only was it a great way to kick off the holiday season, all proceeds went to the Y's Annual Giving Fund, which supports the organization's services for those who could otherwise not afford them.

Congrats to the top 3 finishers in age categories ranging from 9 and under to 60-69, and I'll have to say I need to seriously work on my 5k time before entering again next year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Calvert Hall Homecoming

Just two weeks ago I was at Thursday night trivia at Max's in Fells Point-- the theme, Thanksgiving. The question (the only question I got right for my team at that), what schools in Maryland have the longest standing rivalry. Well apparently no one else in the bar went to private school in the area because I was the only one who correctly guessed Calvert Hall College v. Loyola Blakefield!

And this past week I had the pleasure of catching up with my friend Sebastian and all alums of CHC for that matter, including my former boss and Partner in Charge of KPMG in Baltimore KHall at their annual homecoming bash. As I was driving down LaSalle road I couldn't help but remember the mornings I spent dropping my little brother off at school and stopping by Track and Field meets to watch my friends compete, it was like the fall of 2001 all over again.

Congrats to the Cardinals for breaking their losing streak, not saying I had anything to do with the win but it's a pretty wild coincidence don't ya think?? Haha.
CHC/Mercy HS reunion below:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

GSCM Stuff a Van for USO

There is no better appearance than when two of my favorite forces unite for one great cause! I, along with a group of highly enthusiastic Girl Scouts (and moms) sold cookies and raised money all for the USO at Marley Station Mall in Glen Burnie. Veterans, families, friends and active members of the armed forces stopped by the GSCM display inside as well as the USO van outside to show their support. Little helpers did their part by coloring cookie bags for the holidays to send overseas.

By the time I left, donations were stacked over over my head, and I was wearing heels! Photos below are of the children who took the time to decorate holiday bags, the very talented Danita Terry of GSCM and of course the cookies!

Friday, November 13, 2009

GSCM Green Carpet Event

As they say, time flies when you're having fun! And no sooner than I had stepped on the "Green Carpet" entrance of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland 3rd Annual Event was I congratulating the top 5 sellers in the region during the closing ceremony.

I, along with two other queens I greatly admire, Adrienne Watson Carver Mrs Maryland International and LaQuisha Hall Mrs Maryland Galaxy, was a Distinguished Guest for the evening. We were warmly welcomed by the Girl Scouts at Port Discovery Children's Museum in downtown Baltimore-- and if you have never been, I highly recommend it for a fun night our or daytime activity with any children in your life. Which reminds me, I've got one free ticket for anyone who wants it, courtesy of my goodie bag!
10 wonderful chefs from around the state shared their unqiue recipes with the crowd-- all of which incorporated one of the classic cookies we all love. I have a particular affinity for the newest addition to the bunch-- Thank You Berry Munch which was incorporated into a delicious tart by Chef Bryan Montz. For all of the night's recipes in our souvenier Playbill, including Spicy Trefoil Chicken Fingers (Chef Mason Ambrose at Salt), Striped Bass Mole and Rice (Bill McKinley of McCormick & Schmicks) and more, send me a message and I'd be happy to send it along!

And no GSCM event would be complete without me attempting an outrageous stunt. Remember my infamous climb up the rockwall at PAVE camp?? Well, if you make your way to the top of the museum you can hang gilde through the 3rd floor or the museum. And yours truly, with the help of about 40 young ladies cheering on the sidelines and the attention of guests down below, couldn't resist. Photo to be posted as soon as I get it!

But that's what I love about the GSCM-- I continue to be pushed to my limits by their infectious enthusiasm and can do anything attitude. Photos below are of me and the cookies, receiving my official Girl Scout pins and my latest adventure (pic courtesy of Rachel Matthews)! *PLUG: Dress courtesy of "Party Dress" in Fells Point right next to Yogato. Go see them! Dresses and fro yo, it doesn't get better than that on a single street block downtown*

Monday, November 2, 2009

Loyola Magazine article

It's here! Loyola Magazine's winter issue. Many thanks to Rita Buettner who has been supporting me since I won the title in May. Our conversation was the first of many I would have with the media throughout my reign about winning and more importantly, what I wanted to accomplish. Beyond the crown, I wanted to stay the course of graduating in December with my MBA, balance my work schedule with pageant appearances and share my story. Outside of my immediate family and close friends, my battle with eating disorders had remained a secret for years. We chatted about deciding on my platform-- and there has been no turning back.

Fast forward six months later-- I had a once in a life time experience competing at Nationals in Las Vegas, December is a month away and I cannot believe how much time has passed since I left my full time job last fall, I am still balancing my committments at the World Trade Center Institute with class and appearances and have spoken to hundreds of young women and children about health and wellness. "No Body's Perfect," was intended to change their lives, but it has provided me with a new perspective about what challenges these teens face today.

Check out the online version of the magazine:

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MD USA 2008/2009 Reunion

I have the best girlfriends in town! Niambi, Brittany, Courtney, Anita, Prita and Anna--post pageant/ pre Bertucci's photo in Bethesda.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oktoberfest for the Troops!

Now that the dust from a whirlwind week of midterms and Loyola MBA events has settled I can blog about the Oktoberfest for the Troops!

By my count I think there were about 500+ attendees packed into the main ballroom at Michaels in Glen Burnie! Vets, troops, families and supporters alike gathered to feast, raise money and dance the evening away. The top prize at the silent auction table-- two round trip tickets on British Airways and hotel accomodations, also raised $1000+.

And no 'fest would be complete without like Polka and party classics by "Memories." If anyone has photos of me joining the line dance, please forward them along! Hello to the staff at Skye Hospitality who attended the event as the presenting sponsor. Thank yous to Shauna and family for adopting me for the night, Reagan my ticket selling partner and the rest of the USO volunteers for your efforts.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Miss Teen Baltimore Final Competition

I wish every weekend was pageant weekend-- the lights, dresses, emotion! Congratulations to the the beautiful new titleholders particularly Miss Jr Teen Baltimore Elizabeth Woodson and best of luck to all the contestants in their pageant careers. Elizabeth is a student at the Park School in Baltimore and from the moment I met her in interviews just lit up every room and part of the stage she was on. Included in her amazing prize package is a trip for her and her family to Florda where she will join other to compete for the title of Miss Cities of America! For more information on the Nationals Incorporated system, please visit their website:

Thank you to my VIP's, my mom, ninang Flor, Ms Maryland United States 2009 Radiah Hyatte and Emily Pettine Miss Teen Maryland United States 2009 for coming to the show!

Photos below are some of the judges, getting mobbed in the hallway by tiny tots and Elizabeth and I.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Miss Teen Baltimore Interviews

Wow Wow Wow! It was quite a different experience being on the other side of an interview table at Miss Teen Baltimore! I am overwhelmed by the poise and talent of our young women. I have such a greater understanding of what issues are on the minds of teens, the value that pageantry has introduced to their lives and the community, how the composition of families has changed since even my own generation and am coming to terms with the fact that I wouldn't have stood a chance against some of these ladies when I was their age.

And the day would not have been as memorable without the company of a vibrant panel of judges, including CEO of Suited to Succeed Baltimore Cleona who I've already had the pleasure of working with, the even more beautiful in person Mrs Maryland Galaxy 2009 LaQuisha Hall, and my pal and Mercy Girl Miss Maryland United America 2009 Alicia Taylor.

I am very much looking forward to crowning the city's youngest and brightest queens tomorrow night! Join us at Lindale Middle School in Linthicum, MD for the final show!

Photos below are of the panel for Jr Teen and Teen as well as the state director and I.

Friday, October 16, 2009

University of Maryland Homecoming Alumni Luncheon

Today may have been the coldest/rainiest day of the season yet Riggs IV at the University of Maryland was filled with warmth and exhileration for the Inaugural All Class Reunion Luncheon. Cheers to the Alumni Association particularly, Dr. Rotter, President of the Alumni Association and Event Coordinator Virginia for hosting a high spirited afternoon and extending a kind invitation to me.

My front row tablemates included some of the most senior alums around, from the class of '43-'47. Seated next to me was a great friend of Adele Stamp. Yea, ADELE STAMP as in the STAMP STUDENT UNION Adele. And as hard as I tried to listen to their story of friendship, I couldn't help but think of my own college friends, namely FCA-ers and the countless lunch hours I spent there, in my glasses, stretch jeans and nike dunks. Thoooose were the days.

Anywhoo! I also had the surprising pleasure of meeting nutrition and health expert and class of '86, Joy Bauer. And if you tune into the TODAY show, Joy is no stranger to you-- I'm a huge fan of her segment and a now even bigger fan of her latest book, Joy's LIFE Diet, where life stands for Look Incredible, Feel Extraordinary. Thank you so much for my signed copy! xoxo

The attendees and people in general will never cease to be surprised that I was an accountant in a prior life. Resist the urge to think that someone who competes in pageants and someone who has graduated from a top business program have nothing in common! Most 'pageant girls' will agree they have never seen more fire and ambition than behind the scenes at a competition.

I attribute my drive, can do attitude and charisma to Maryland, particularly the Smith School of Business that equipped me with a skill set that has contributed to my overall successes in life.
Thank you College Park for that, and again thank you to all the alums I met today, who are in their own way, also contributing to the legacy and brand equity associated with being a Terrapin. Go TERPS, Beat Virginia!

Photos below are of Dr. Rotter and Joy as well as me and Testudo outside Riggs.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Read for the Record

Emily and I took part in the USO's Read for the Record. We spent the day at Indian Head Elementary School today in Charles County. In speaking with Principal Milton and welcoming staff in the library, I knew we were in for a treat-- the school was just notified of an award (I believe they have been recognized for four consecutive years at this point) that ackowledged the kind and well-behaved students attending the School.

As I mentioned in prior entries, we read The Very Hungry Caterpiller to 400+ students over three sessions. This book must have been written before my time because everyone seemed to have already read the book except me. So at the end (SPOILER ALERT), when the caterpillar became a beautiful butterfly, I was totally surprised! I think I was so intent on making it an enjoyable read for the kids and being extra animated that the story hadn't really sunk it until it was over!

We even stayed for lunch-- chicken nugget day, my favorite!

Thanks in advance to the reporter at Southern Maryland for your article, Lindsay at the USO for attending the event, Emily for making the drive and of course everyone at Indian Head Elementary for making it one for the 'record' books!

Below are photos of Principal Milton, me and the students and Emily.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

In a partnership with Pearson's Foundation, the USO will be holding its 2009 Read for the Record Campaign. It is an exciting collaboration that aims to highlight the education gap for military and low income families.

Miss Virginia United States, Christie Black at Fort Belvoir and myself (with my own sister queens) at the Indian Head Elementary School in Maryland will be joining 70 other USO centers as they host reading events at schools and military bases around the globe for soldiers and their families. Troops stationed abroad will also send recordings of themselves reading this year's book in time for their families to view on October 8th. It is the worlds largest shared reading experience.

Support this effort and hold your own reading session this Thursday-- pick up your copy of "The Very Hungry Caterpiller!"

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink yogurt lids and races around the country are conveying one message this month-- increase your awareness of breast cancer and join the fight against the disease. One of the stories last week on the cover of CNN featured a man who had been diagnosed. While he is certainly in the minority of those affected by the disease, everyone should be particularly aware this month about their breast health-- the keys being EDUCATION and EARLY DETECTION.

An estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will occur among women in the United States during 2009. And an estimated 40,170 women will die from breast cancer. Also, about 1,910 men will be diagnosed and 440 men will die of breast cancer during 2009 in the United States.

Statistics courtesy of the Susan G Komen website:

Please join me in a Race for the Cure, October 18, 2009 in Hunt Valley: At least 25% of net proceeds are used to support the Komen Award and Research Grant Program. Up to 75% of net proceeds stay in Maryland to fund grants that provide transportation to appointments, financial support, appropriate diagnostic testing, and a comprehensive range of follow-up services.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Baltimore's Annual Chocolate Festival!

Now THIS is the event I've been waiting for. When my dad was still working at UMMS, just a few steps away from Baltimore's famous Lexington Market, he would take my siblings and I to the Annual Chocolate Festival every October. And as much as I protested saying goodbye to summer, I knew the fall season would bring chocolate and more chocolate!

Attending the event as Miss Maryland United States certainly added a new dimension to the experience but it was just as I remembered-- although I'll have to admit I was never witness to the chocolate eating contest, which I had the pleasure of judging this afternoon. Two second year University of Maryland Medical students, 4 chocolate treats and less than a minute each (2 chocolate covered strawberries, my personal favorite chocolate strawberry shortcake, the biggest chocolate cupcakes I've ever seen and a fudge dipped apple) made for an entertaining time!

The festival will be running through to the weekend-- enjoy live music and the best eats (and sweets) in town! Speaking of live music, I walked away with a set of new drumsticks from "Inquiring Minds," today's band. Now all I need is a drum set! And you can't go to the Market without stopping by Faidley's for their award-winning lump crab cakes-- Bill, thank you so much for my delicious dinner tonight!

Hello to my new friend Pat Borque-- watch WBAL tonight for coverage of the event! Thanks to Darlene, the Marketing and Promotions Manager at the Market as well as the vendors who sent me away with a bag full of goodies! Below are photos of Darlene with the contestants (Priscilla and Qadira), daddy and my brother Paul as well as the friendly gentleman from Moore's chocolates.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Extreme Makeover: No Body's Perfect FOOD Edition

At No Body's Perfect I am always tweeking and adjusting my workshops and presentations to the needs, interests, and age of my audience. My take on "Eat This, Not That" has been a wonderful success-- the presentation puts fast food menu options head to head in a nutrition battle. I would love to try to build healthy makeover recipes for budding chefs for all of our favorite but bad for you meals into my next string of workshops. Here was my inspiration:

Paula Deen a beloved Food Network personality is working on the launch of a new television show. In an interview at the View this past week, Barbara Walters expressed great criticism over her recipes and Paula's contribution to the growing waistlines of today's youth. While she is not a personality I follow because I rarely make southern comfort food, it got me thinking... there should always be a way to enjoy our favorite foods in a healthy way.

So here's where YOU come in-- please leave a comment here, Twitter or Facebook message or email me at with a recipe/food/treat you'd like me to tackle! In return I'll come up with a yummy alternative and post here!

Thanks in advance for your help in this project!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Update

Good evening readers! Help me gain some feedback about my posts and appearances! I've added the "reaction" application to the blog-- after reading an entry, feel free to select "great entry!," "fun photos," or "wompwomp!"


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rite Care Bull and Oyster Roast

Excuse me while I loosen the belt on my dress! The masons at the Scottish Rite sure know how to throw a bash! From a wine and cake wheel (I won a bottle!) down to the buffet style roast, the event to support Rite Care was reminiscent of the pancake breakfasts and fundraisers I frequented in my youth at my church.

It was a treat to jump start our collaboration with the organization in Baltimore. Greetings to Dr. Mason and brothers and many thanks for your hospitality this evening. In possession of the Masonry's highest honors, Dr. Wilhelmson is also an alumni of Loyola College, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, received his D.D.S. from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and serves on the Loyola College Board of Trustees (just to name a few items on his resume). And I thought getting my MBA was impressive! Wow!

Home to the Miss Maryland US pageant, our relationship with the Rite is rooted in a relationship built by my director, also the director for Miss Virginia US. With nearly 200 clinics nationwide, Rite Care Childhood Language Programs provide diagnostic evaluation and treatment of speech and language disorders, as well as learning disabilities. Through fundraisers such as these, their reach continues to grow.

For more on the Program and upcoming events, please visit:

Photos below are of Dr. Wilhelmson and I, attendees and our $10 raffle (for $10 dollars you received as many tickets as you could reach!)

Viva Italia to benefit the Children's Guild

No rain/umbrella debacle to report today-- only sun and shiny cars! At the 5th Annual Viva Italia car show, I spoke to hundreds of car afficionados and Children's Guild supporters about my year as Miss Maryland US, the importance of education, my experience with the Guild and Dr. Ross's contribution to the community. Knowing I was reaching the end of my MBA program, the emcee made a hilarious remark about why everyone was gathered there today...
We are here for two reasons, to support the Guild and find Miss Maryland a job!

What started in Annapolis as a small idea for a fundraiser has since grown to fill the streets of Harbor East with over 100 of the area's finest cars! Check your tickets to see if you've won the Toyota Prius! (For more information on how you can donate , go online to: )

And no Children's Guild event would be complete without performances by their staff and students. My personal favorite was Hank Williams' Hey Good Looking kindly dedicated to me by a wildly talented trio of friends.

Also ran into ex-KPMG'er Matt and his beautiful wife Cari, spotted a blue jump suited 'Elvis', hung out with my new friends at Handbags in the City, took a hilarious photo of a Lamborghini with a Filipino license plate and purchased the most expensive 20oz fountain soda from Taco Fiesta (wompwomp).

Photos below are of Dr and Mrs Ross, addressing the audience and Baltimore's youngest Idols!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baltimore Book Festival with Ingrid Hoffmann

AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can hardly contain my excitement. Not only am I a huge book worm I am an even bigger foodie!

Where do I begin! Okay... after the Dress for Success Fashion Show I made my way 6 blocks down Charles Street to the Baltimore Book Festival. Having not checked my weather bug I had not exepcted the huge rainstorm that came down. I literally found myself asking patrons of the event who were on their way out if I could purchase their umbrellas. Two desparate inquiries later, I ran into a couple of women who just happened to have a stack of them in their van. Amazing! I begged them to let me pay for their parking and they finally resisted.

$4 and 10 minutes later, I had my umbrella. Success.

Time check-- I had approximately 12 minutes to make it to the cooking stage where I would be meeting Food Network's Ingrid Hoffmann, host of Simply Delicioso. She was not only more beautiful than she appears on tv, her 'chica tips' and poblano and tomatillo shrimp held the attention of a max crowd, despite the pouring rain. We also made coconut rice and a radicchio salad-- all with 5 ingredients or less. And if we hadn't been chatting for two hours on stage, the meal would have probably taken 30-40 minutes from start to finish.

A self proclaimed 'professional eater' and extremely knowledgable about her ingredients, she described her culinary perspective as a 'mutt," leverging from both her European and Latino heritage. Cooking side by side with Ingrid exceeded all my expectations-- I can see why these celebrity chefs do what they do, 24/7, it's exhilerating!

If you don't already have it, I suggest you run to your local B&N or sign onto Amazon to purchase your copy of Ingrid's cookbook-- Simply Delicioso. Mine is signed! Photos below are of Ingrid and I.

Stepping Out in Style Fashion Show

As I dive into my gift bag from the Dress for Success Stepping Out in Style Fashion Show, I can only feel honored to have been part of a beautifully executed event. It was with grace that Cleona (CEO and Founder of the Baltimore Chapter), the Board, special guests and sponsors came together in a continuing effort to support women who strive to be successful in work and in life.

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco on Charles Street was a modern backdrop to this networking event and fundraiser. If you have not yet been to this new addition to the downtown hotel district, I strongly encourage you to book a stay there-- the customer service is world renowned and lived up to all of its accolades. With guests to the walls of the back lobby turned runway for the evening, it is no wonder why the organization has experienced tremendous expansion-- a committed following of supporters and clientele.

I ran into Debbie Phelps for a second time during my reign. Not only do we both advocate for the Children's Guild in Baltimore, providing long term solutions to the community is also the foundation of our platforms. I'm sure she's met 1000s of fans in her travels and speaking engagements, I was pleasantly surprised to find she remembered me and our conversation about education.

And as if that wasn't enough, Al Reynolds was the Emcee! I also met the owner of one of my favorite shopping destinations in Harbor East-- Handbags in the City. The most amazing accessories and now clothes call this boutique home. He was kind enough to donate the bags used in the fashion show to Dress for Success-- lucky ladies! And I WILL be stopping by after Viva Italia tomorrow! Please visit their expanded location on Aliceanna as well as in Mt Washington Village or online at

Photos below are of Cleona, Debbie and Al.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brittany Williams for Miss Nevada USA 2010

It's that time of the year again-- USA State pageant season! And I couldn't be more happy to support Brittany Williams, Miss Nevada United States 2008 and Miss United States 2008, for the 2010 race in Nevada!

From our first meeting in DC for Blumpari and the National Memorial Day Parade (as hosted by Joy Hodges, Miss DC United States 2009) to my journey to nationals, she has stressed one important key to success, on and off the pageant stage-- Be Yourself. Her personal platform is aptly named BYoutiful-- the oragnization builds workshops, and programs that help to develop young women's appreciation for the unique gifts they possess. Please check out her website for more information about her year as Miss US 2008 and details about sponsorship.

I've got my BYoutiful tshirt-- do you?! Think of it as an early Christmas present to yourself and your entire team of queens for that matter!

Photo below is of Brittany (in her black BYoutiful logo tank) and me in Vegas!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ban Pro Anorexia Websites

As a marketer/blogger/social networker I have come to appreciate the power of the web. The internet and social media have greating changed the way we communicate. And now only are we consumers of information, vehicles such as Word Press, Facebook, Twitter and the like have enabled us to create our own content.

Earlier this week I came across a video link on CNN that was just so disturbing. It shed light on the growing phenomenon of pro anorexia (aka "pro-ana") websites. I browsed through a few, whose promotions suggest a place of refuge, sense of community and source of advice. I will tell you these sites are none of these things. If anything, they further support body dysmorphia and go so far as to create a game out of losing weight and offering "how to's."

If you or anyone you know are suffering from an eating disorder, I suggest contacting the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt (locally) or the National Eating Disorder Association (nationwide).

CED at SP:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Young Women of Color Conference

I am so happy to pass along the following information about the 2nd Annual Young Women of Color Conference:

Please mark your calendars for October 24 for a day of empowerment. For only $15, you can join the dialogue about such topics as leadership, self-esteem and community spirit! And if anyone is an authority on these issues it is our very own Miss Jr Teen Maryland US Tiara Smith who is among the speakers! I am always blown away at her confidence when we are out at appearances. [For more on Tiara, please visit her website at the link in the right column of my page.]

I often laugh and think back a decade-- yes, I am 10 years older than Tiara, I cannot believe it. The young woman I am today is much different than the girl I was 10 years ago who although was a fixture in the community and active in a wide range of activities, struggled internally to find a voice for herself. And for everyone that knows me, those days are long gone-- I take advantage of every opportunity this title has given me to share my story!

This year's conference theme: "I Am Powerful." Please visit the event website for more information,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"A Better Community" Cookie Workshop, continued

Leave it up to the Girl Scouts to bring the fun on a rainy Saturday! Myself, along with my two favorite Program Specialists and a handful of dedicated parent assistants, held our first Cookie Marketing Workshop-- a successful one if I do say so myself.

From cookie stars who channeled the personalities of their favorite cookie to the basics of advertising their booths, the young girls are well on their way to reaching their goals this year. Up for grabs for those selling at least 500 boxes, a trip to Disney on Ice-- so if you see the familiar brown and green uniforms, please stop by and support them! And also be sure to pick up a box of the newest variety-- "Thank You Berry Munch." A short bread cookie baked with real cranberries-- delish. And combine with a few ingredients to make granola, great atop yogurt or by itself. (Recipe courtesy of

1 box Thank U Berry Munch Girl Scout Cookies
2 Cups oatmeal (dry) ½ Cup flaked coconut
½ Cup slivered or sliced almonds (or other nuts)
½ Cup shelled sunflowerseeds
½ Cup honey
Cup cooking oil
½ Cup dried cranberries or Craisins
½ Cup white chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 300°. Grease a 15" x 10" x 1"
baking pan. Break Thank U Berry Munch cookies into ½" pieces and set aside. In a second bowl, mix together oatmeal, coconut, almonds (or other nuts) and sunflower seeds. In a third bowl, mix together honey and cooking oil. Stir Cup of honey/oil mixture into the cookie pieces and set aside. Stir remaining honey/oil mixture into the oatmeal mixture. Spread evenly onto greased pan. Bake 10-12 minutes. Stir cookie pieces into the baked oatmeal mixture. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until lightly brown. Remove from oven and cool. Once cool, stir in cranberries (or Craisins) and white chocolate chips. ENJOY!

Photo below is of me and my 5 cookie stars!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"A Better Community" Cookie Workshop

My two loves-- baked goods and marketing, together in the first series of what are shaping up to be several Cookie Marketing workshops throughout the year. My highly anticipated shipment of new autograph cards arrived today, just in time for tomorrow's appearance with the Girl Scouts! Watch out Central Maryland-- there will be cookie sales like you've never seen!

And, to get in the spirit, I am whipping up a batch of angel food cupcakes to enjoy over the weekend. Now I'm no photographer, but those are some darn good lookin' treats!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Once a Mercy girl, always a Mercy girl

It was Fall 2000 all over again, in traffic for my 30+ minute commute to Mercy high school this morning en route to my meeting with SMAS aka Sr. Mary Anne Smith who in a prior life was my Spanish teacher turned Alumnae Director. Never mind the new score boards on the soccer fields, fresher than I remember coat of paint in the hallways and just ripped from their boxes, top of the line MAC/PCs in the west wing... it was the same Mercy I remember. Mr. Stoddard was copying away in the business office, Ms. Cumming was looking better than ever and all of my teachers had remembered my name as if I had sat in their lectures earlier that morning.

The Miss Maryland US sash has a funny way of drawing excitement from passerbys-- so imagine the students reactions as I sat down with them in the cafeteria, in my old lunch seat 2nd row from the back by the windows. My favorite moment was walking down the alumnae row with SMAS and passing the class of '01. I was witness to one of the worse photos taken of me in history, forever memorialized in this hallway. Haha.

"You named three people we should contact if we ever lost contact in your senior evaluation-- do you remember?"

Jen C, Megan R and Erin D.

Bingo. Such great friendships, turned college roomate and now conquering the east coast one state at a time. I wish I had made a greater effort to keep in touch since college! But Facebook is great for things like this, touching base with old friends and wishing them the best in their careers.

Ms. Simmons allowed me a brief interruption of her Geometry class in session. "Comment about your experience at Mercy and how it's helped you in your endeavors." The only piece of advice I had for this group of sophomores was to

believe in the system and the tools the institution is providing. You will soon realize the value of the Mercy tradition and the name that has been made in the community by alums.

In Baltimore, more than any other place I've heard, you will inevitably be asked where you went to school. Not elementary or college, high school. Your legacy and those of the women before you will be with you always.

It's great to be home-- looking forward to my many appearances at the school this year! For a list of events and more information about MHS visit their website: Last time I was on campus was last year's Career Day representing KPMG and the Accounting/Finance fields-- what a difference a year makes!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dress for Success

As a woman, young professional and Miss Maryland US, I realize the power a great suit can have on my confidence at an event, interview or appearance. And that is the sentiment behind an organization like Dress for Success.

I first met Cleona on my first day at my internship and our Women Spanning the Globe Event. There, Dress for Success accepted donations of gently used or new professional attire and accessories for women transitioning into the work force. It was a collaboration that just made sense-- the region's leading female business leaders empowering Dress's clients, most of whom are single heads of households and in need of job training and assistance.

I extended my hand to her and she responded in an invitation as a guest to their "Stepping Out in Style" Fashion Show. I urge you to not only attend but forward the information along to colleagues, friends, family, sister queens, etc.

The organization's supporters include such institutions as Bank of America, my former firm KPMG, and T. Rowe Price, just to name a few. For more information about how you can donate or volunteer, please check out their website:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Miss Maryland US Homepage

This photo and more can be viewed at the Miss Maryland US Homepage ( -- Photo by Michael Vonal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interview with Loyola Magazine

In my second interview with Loyola magazine, I chatted with Rita (editor) about life after the big competition in Las Vegas. In what will have likely been my last pageant (unfortunately, I am aging out of most systems this year), it felt great to look back to the national competition and how it's really enriched my life. I made new friends in the other queens, particularly those within a 3 state radius; became closer to my family that jumps at most opportunities to make appearances with me; realized the patience Dan has exercised as a 'pageant boyfriend' and came to appreciation my education and the value it will bring to my life after the crown.

The strongest relationships I have formed in the past 4 months (wow, I can't believe it's already been 4 months!) have been among my sister queens. You will hear this term often so to save you the confusion, it refers to the other Maryland US titleholders-- Tiara, Miss Jr Teen, Emily, Miss Teen and Radiah, Ms. From volunteering at various organizations around the state to striking a pose at our photo shoots, they have made serving our community that much more enjoyable.

My dad, I mentioned is a huge fan of the title. I think it has something to do with the fact that he's very competitive and well, I wasn't a huge sports player growing up. Reading, making and selling crafts around the neighborhood (true story), cooking, piano and later running took up most of my days. And to have experienced this huge win with me, well... it's been something unique to brag about.

... back to Loyola. While pageantry and business school have seemingly nothing in common, each has allowed me to stand out. I am going out on a limb and saying there are few titleholders with MBAs. Similarly, I believe I am the first queen to walk the halls of the Sellinger School of Business! Further, they have both been opportunities to focus on myself and my future.

The coming year will be one of great change-- graduation, passing on my title and re entering the work force. All I can do in the meantime is enjoy it and welcome any surprises that come with-- because for years I had been waiting for someone to rescue me from a career I didn't particularly love, when all I needed to do was take charge of my own life.

Ok ok, it's likely I'm still riding the Julie & Julia wave from this morning. Maybe it's because I'm a huge foodie and my dream job would be to appear on the Food Network as a guest chef or work for a related magazine in their Marketing department but it was the ultimate tale of realizing your passion and spending a lifetime doing it... so simple! I could go on and on so I'll leave it at that. On deck-- french onion steak and sauteed green beans for dinner tonight.

For more information on the publication or to request a copy, visit the Loyola Magazine website: and watch for me as MBA/Miss Maryland US in the December 2009 issue!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


My sister queens and I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with our pageant photographer, Michael Vonal-- for new and improved headshots and an Annie Leibovitz-inspired shoot in our beautiful gowns. And while waiting for the entire team to make it to the studio, Radiah and I played with my new "Bump Its" (thanks again!)-- I think it's going to take some practice to successfully execute the pageant bump!

Watch the Miss Maryland US homepage for new photos coming soon! For more on Michael's work, please visit his website:

Enjoy our after shot below! xoxo,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cal Ripken World Series

Not my best first pitch to date but a beautiful day in Aberdeen and a fun-filled appearance nonetheless! Thank you to the Ripken Organization for the great accomodations at the stadium-- my mom, in her first time coming to one of my appearances, Dan and I were treated to front row seats and a delicious VIP reception. And congratualtions to the final teams-- Southeast (US Champions) and Mexico (International Champions) for their hardwork and an afternoon of nail biting little league excitement.

The rain storms held out juuuust in time for the Southeast to win it all, 6-7 despite a 3-run come back from Mexico in the bottom of the 6th and 7th innings.

The past two weeks of competition and comraderie are a huge testament to the collaboration between the stadium and the community-- while it has certainly boosted the local economy, housing all the players was truly a labor of love from the host families. It is not every day you have the opportunity to share your home and embrace another child's culture.

Hello to new friends Jared Cotter, from Season 6's American Idol and the Fuze Network who sang the national anthem, and Eric "We Must Protect This House" Ogbogu, official spokesperson for Under Armour and Colin Clark, Brand Manager at Under Armour.

Photos below are of me and Eric, Jared and the winning team!