Three years ago I began competing in the Miss Miami Gardens Scholarship Pageant with the hope of winning the extraordinary title of Miss Miami Gardens. A friend, Corey Jackson, educated me about the pageant and all the great benefits it had to offer and I decided to accept the challenge and competed for the first time in 2009. Apprehensive at first, I did not want to wear a swimsuit on a stage in front of an audience and I thought I had not one shred of talent. Corey and my family continued to encourage me, and when I learned of the $2,500 scholarship prize that would be awarded to the winner, I decided to step up to the challenge. I dove into the pageant world head first and since then I have never looked back.
In 2009, I placed as second runner-up. I was so devastated that I didn’t win the title, but with the encouragement of friends and family, I decided I would not quit and that I would plan to compete again the following year. In preparation for the 2010 competition, I decided to compete in other local Miss Florida pageants, hoping to win, but most of all walking away with the experience!
While interning at the City of Miami Gardens one day, I began to sing along to the radio which was playing in the background. The Events and Media staff heard me sing and began encouraging me that signing should be my talent. I had never before considered that I had any vocal talent and decided to give it a try. I invested in a singing instructor.
I did not win in the following pageants I competed in, nor placed, but I was able to grow my singing abilities and begin to try to perfect my talent. Now I was ready for my second entry into the Miss Miami Gardens Scholarship Pageant.
In 2010 with a new and improved talent, I was certain I was going to win the Miss Miami Gardens Pageant. I competed for the title, and once again was disappointed only placing as first runner up. It was a hard blow, and after recovering from the disappointment, I gained the will to commit myself to competing again and this time I had to win!
I realized preparation was the key to success and therefore I would commit myself to getting ready for the third round. I entered as many local pageant competitions as I could within the Miss America system; taking notes and pointers from fellow competitors, especially the winners and the judges. I learned the winning walk, talk and style. I wanted to win! After losing each pageant, I dissected what I did wrong and what I could improve. I took it very seriously. Most importantly, I learned how to be comfortable with myself whether I won or not.
On April 23, 2011, I competed for the third time in the Miss Miami Gardens Scholarship pageant. This time I had experience along with the handwork and commitment I had invested into myself and reaching my goal. I was focused and had my eye on the crown. The competition was steep, as I competed alongside seven wonderful and talented young women. As usual, I made sure I put my best forward. That night as all the contestants stood confident waiting to hear their name as the title winner, many thoughts crossed my mind including all the “what ifs”. “What if I lose again?” “What if I don’t even place?” “What if this is the end of the road?” I was ready for disappointment, since I had lost so many times before. If anything I was probably the most graceful loser in the pageant system. I was certainly ready for the win!
“And the Winner of the 2011 Miss Miami Gardens Scholarship Pageant is …” Then they called my name, “Janey Tate”, the excitement and happiness that consumed me was surreal. It was like seeing my name in lights on the Marquis.
While the win was amazing, what I gained throughout my years competing, designed me to be a better person in so many ways. The journey confirmed that the goal was attainable, but like anything in life worth having, you have to work hard, commit yourself and become disciplined to reach the goal.
While I feel like a champion, I also realize that there are many more dreams and wins ahead of me that I have to accomplish, but this particular win really made the difference in building my character, self-confidence and my tenacity to persevere.
Winning was not easy. There were many long late nights, tears and personal struggles, and I am so happy to see my perseverance paid off. While I invested in myself personally, many of my family and friends sacrificed their time and money to help me reach my aspirations. I worked with what I like to call a “Dream Team” of people who helped me prepare for the competitions. Mock interviews, lots of fundraising, singing instructions and consultations with a stylist all went into the preparation for the big night.
Three years later and discovering that I actually had an unknown talent, I now hold the title of 2011 Miss Miami Gardens and I will go on to represent my city, the City for Miami Gardens, at the Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant July 6th- 9th, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. While I have one title under my belt, I really look forward to winning the 2011 Miss Florida crown and the $10,000 scholarship prize. I continue to work hard each day, balancing life, school and my goals. I hope to come back with the Miss Florida crown, but besides the crown, the friends, support, love and knowing I can do absolutely anything I set my heart and mind to as long as I believe in myself!
The Miss Miami Gardens and Miss Florida Scholarship Pageants are franchises of the Miss America pageant system. Contestants must compete in the following categories: private interview, talent, lifestyle and fitness, evening wear, and on-stage question. The competition is very intense and preparation is the key to winning. The Miss America Organization is one of the nation’s leading achievement programs and the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance. The Miss America program exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women and to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community. The program provides a forum for today’s young women to express their viewpoints, talents and accomplishments to audiences during the telecast and to the public- at-large during the ensuing year. Almost all contestants have either received, or are in the process of earning, college or postgraduate degrees and utilize Miss America scholarship grants to further their educations.
To become Miss America, a contestant must first win a local competition and then compete to represent her state, a process requiring personal commitment, hard work and talent. A woman may compete at the state level more than once, but may only compete in the national Miss America competition one time. More than twelve thousand women participate each year in the local and state events, culminating in the selection of 52 national finalists who vie for the Miss America title. Tens of thousands of volunteers organize the local and state preliminary competitions, promoting community involvement throughout the United States and furthering scholarship and achievement among young women in their communities.
I want everyone to know all I have accomplished since I began competing would not have been possible without the emotional and financial support from the community and my sponsors. The first year I competed, I fundraised over $600 within 3 weeks and $400 of that went to the Children’s Miracle Network- the Miss America Organization’s national platform. I was overwhelmed by the generous contributions and how many people believed in me. Since I began, I have fundraised over $1,400 for the Children’s Miracle Network and that money goes to help children in need. I would like to give a special thanks to my mother, Velveeta Tate, my grandmother, the late Carrie Elizabeth Tate, my aunt, Tawanda McNair, AFSCME Local 1363, Richelle Wright, Jan Solomon, Rosie Justilien, The Miami Gardens Events & Media Department, The City of Miami Gardens Mayor & Council and The JMH Health Plan employees. These people have never hesitated to support me and I greatly appreciate them.I am also proud to say that I have encouraged former contestants to come back and compete for the title again. Other than the allure of pageantry, the opportunity to win scholarship money to further their education is the most important thing.
Since being crowned I have made a number of appearances, participated in photo-shoots and attended great events where I represented the City, such as Taste in the Gardens. I especially loved attending the Relay for Life- a marathon walk that gives to cancer research. This year, the event was held in the City of Miami Gardens and we raised over $55,000 for the cause.
I will take full advantage of my title through my year of service and I will use this opportunity to promote my platform- Mentoring and Volunteering with Passion(MVP). I look forward to a great year of service to my community and of course completing college with a Bachelors of Science in Mass Communications.
If you would like Miss Miami Gardens to appear at your school, business, church or organization please contact the Miss Miami Gardens Pageant Coordinator, Stephanie Saenz, at firstname.lastname@example.org and (305)-622-8000 ext. 2482 or Janey Tate, at email@example.com.