Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A Junior Miss Weekend
The Virginia's Junior Miss Judging Panel
This weekend I had the honor of judging the Virginia's Junior Miss Program. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the people involved in this organization. I participated in Ohio's Junior Miss in 2004 and had a great time. I have a special scrapbook just for the week I spent in Mount Vernon, Ohio, preparing for the final program. It is easily my favorite "pageant-related" experience I have ever had.
America's Junior Miss is a program for high school seniors to win scholarships for college. AJM gets $50,000 at the national level, and many state programs award between 5-40,000 dollars to young women each year. You can only compete once, and one winner is chosen to spend two weeks in Mobile, Alabama, for America's Junior Miss. The girls compete in self-expression, talent, interview, scholastics, and a fitness routine (this weekends was a six minute routine with push-ups, sit ups, high kicks, and a personal routine for each girl- sorry, that beats twenty seconds in a swimsuit any day!).
I was on the panel with a very distinguished group of former junior misses- a doctor in family practice, a chiropractor, an Exxon Mobile manager, and a young woman graduating with honors from college this spring to go work as a journalist in DC. There is something about Junior Miss- the women go on to accomplish amazing things. The average GPA of this years class of Junior Miss? 3.97. Last year's Virginia's Junior Miss is working on research at MIT.
I discovered Junior Miss during the summer of 2003 while flipping channels and seeing some program on CMT where girls were kickboxing to win money for college. I later learned it was America's Junior Miss, and I started asking my mom for permission to participate right away. What resulted was a wonderful week I will always cherish.
I have never had such a good time behind the scenes (by the way, don't call Junior Miss a "pageant"- the program corrects anyone who calls it this. There are no crowns or sashes- simply medallions and scholarships) at a program like this. The women I judged with were fascinating. I talked to the doctor about getting through the last two years of medical school (which my own boyfriend will soon embark on), the chiropractor about alternative cures for several migraine headaches, the auditor and Exxon employee about the growing phenomenon that is Twilight, and even spoke with the chiropractor/dance teacher about teaching dance for free in underprivileged communities, which is my newest venture I'll be pursuing after my move to Maryland in June. What a great weekend!
The girls were beyond impressive. I cannot remember at 18 being so articulate or talented. The winner, Brina Gabryel, was only 16 years old but already accepted to a university's dance program for the fall. She won talent, fitness, and self-expression. I believe she won close to $4,000 this weekend alone, in addition to what she had previously won as Lynchburg's Junior Miss.
If there are any junior high school girls out there interested in earning money for college and having a great time, please consider participating in this program next year!
My boyfriend and I also made the most of the weekend with a few interesting stops, which I'll blog about later!