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Debbie’s Corner: What Does it Mean to be Miss Washington?

Dear Reader,

I contemplated writing about my experience judging the Miss Washington pageant earlier this month because of all the controversy surrounding Donald Drumpf’s insensitive comments about Mexican immigration. First of all, the Miss Washington organization is part of the Miss America organization and is not affiliated with Donald Drumpf. Unfortunately many people I talked with naturally thought it was, so I spent some time explaining the differences. Miss America is a scholarship organization, they are one of the largest providers of scholarships to women in the country. Every contestant gets a scholarship. Miss USA is a facet of Miss Universe and both organizations are owned by Donald Drumpf. There are a lot more differences but I want to spend more time writing about the extraordinary young women I had the privilege of spending two days with and the process we went through to crown a new Miss Washington. The more I thought about it, the more I felt compelled to share the three days of events leading up to the crowning of Miss Washington 2015. – Debbie


and the only judge without prior pageant experience. They deemed me the “novice” judge. There were two past Miss Washington’s and two gentlemen from out of state that are involved with their local associations that made up the team. Five people from very diverse backgrounds and experience levels but after spending three days together we left with the utmost respect for each other.   

A month before the pageant the judges were sent a packet of information containing each contestant’s picture, resume and platform statement. We were asked to study each one and come prepared with 3 questions for each girl. The accomplishments of each of the girls humbled me. I can say without hesitation that each contestant is committed to service and bettering those less fortunate than themselves. 

The first day is spent interviewing all 21 contestant for 10 minutes each. These women walked into the room and stood in front of a judging panel they had never seen before and answered the most random questions from us. The questions weren’t easy. For example, “Should our President have the authority in an emergency to declare war, and if so, what stipulations if any should be in place to prevent the abuse of power?” It would make the most confident and educated person perspire. I was so impressed by the way they handled the pressure. I wanted all of them to come and work for me! 

After all the scoring from the interviews and the preliminary pageant were compiled, the judges met in the judge’s suite of the hotel to decide who the top contestants were for Friday night’s final show. Before this, no one had been eliminated and the realization that 11 contestants were going to be told the next night that they didn’t make it into the top 10 was daunting. This is where it became very real and very emotional for me. I was also questioning myself and wondering if I was being a good judge. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. 

Friday night was pageant night and the contestants repeated their swimsuit, gown and talent competitions. Every girl brought her A game. After the scoring was compiled the top 5 contestants were announced and I was able to breathe a little easier. Four of the top 5 contestants were my choices! Then the top 5 answered 2 random questions on stage before the winner was announced. I am convinced we chose the best Miss Washington 2015. Her name is Lizzie Johnson, Miss Rainier, and she is as smart as she is beautiful. She is the kind of person that can make everyone of all ages and backgrounds feel special and she will represent our state well. 

I will probably be affiliated with the Miss Washington organization for a long time because I believe in their mission and I have seen firsthand how they support the dreams and aspirations of young women. I was honored to be asked to judge and I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to work with my fellow judges, meet the supporters and volunteers and especially the 21 extraordinary women representing our state.   


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