Behind the Scenes as a Judge: Miss Cary-Grove Business Scholarship Pageant

Image Credit: Linda M. Barrett

Image Credit: Linda M. Barrett

So I'm celebrating my 7-anniversary of the moment in which I decided to compete in my first pageant. I remember my energy high but my nerves were probably even higher. I wanted to know the million dollar question, "what will the judges be looking for?"

Well, this time I got to experience what Judges are looking for when I was asked to be a part of the Miss Cary-Grove Business Scholarship Pageant. On May 22, 2017, I took a seat in the Judge's chair for part 1 of what we call "the Do or Die Interview!"

Each contestant had a chance to have a private interview with the judges. 

But this time I got to take a seat in the Judge's chair. And let me tell you what happened - and what I learned! 

First, stop If you think women who compete in pageants are just pretty faces who possess a strikingly high level of charm that makes you fall in love with them, you're missing out on the essence of what these young ladies represent. 

Yes, some women may compete and may fail in the common sense test that most Americans use. I personally don't think there's common sense if you haven't been exposed to it. 

Let's be real: They've probably accomplished more on their resume then you've achieved in a lifetime. I mean these are serious go-getters! 

Yeah, you think you know it all but you have no idea. The onstage performance is only half the competition. There's another thing that we like to call "interview" that happens before the on stage competition takes place. So yes, communication skills are important. 

Congratulations to the following award recipients!

Mary Grace Riley -Miss Cary-Grove 2017

Ella Spoelstra - 1st Runner-Up and Miss Congeniality

Daisy Wenc - 2nd Runner-Up

Elisha Bushman for Most Photogenic

Thank you to Cary-Grove Chamber Board Members Lisa Raupp and Ellen McAlpine of Envoy Mortgage for co-chairing this fantastic event. Thank you to our Chamber businesses that sponsor and support the girls. Thank you to Linda M. Barrett Productions for capturing the wonderful event on camera.

And a big thank you and congratulations to all 11 young ladies that took part in the Miss Cary-Grove Business Scholarship Pageant. 

The Engagement Game: A Must-Read Memoir for Sophisticated, Successful and Single Women

There it was. Not noticeably at first but then definitely. I felt an undeniable shift. I didn’t have to pause when I got out of bed in the morning. I just stretched my body from my navel to my toes, and hopped out. I got dressed with interest and intent and made the train on time. When I did my daily eight-minute walk from the 72nd street train stop to my job, I noticed things I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

Wow! This book is more than I had expected! It was hard to put down, even when my eyes were telling me that it was way past my bed time. This book was so captivating that it was the first book in years that I read word-for-word in less than a week! The moment I finished reading the book, I felt like I had grown as a person due to Joi-Marie’s relationship journey.

To a woman’s dismay, success in the boardroom can’t always guarantee success in the bedroom, no matter how beautiful they are. It’s true: it takes more than being a 5’10 corporate beauty to cause men to drop to one knee. And Joi-Marie is definitely more than a pretty face. She’s a successful ABC News Producer, creator of, and in-demand panelist and workshop facilitator who’s just added one more accolade to her already impressive resume: accomplished author! Yep! Google The Engagement Game online and you’ll see all the rave reviews. See for yourself why people are finding it hard to put this book down. 

The Engagement Game is a book that connects with the career-driven woman hoping to create her “happily ever after” success story by receiving the coveted ring. Her stories are honest—she opens up in a way that leads to an immediate connection between the reader and herself. It reads like a conversation with your best girlfriend—you know the type of interaction that makes you want to tell your friend off for allowing certain situations to happen. You want to step into the chapters of the book and add your own two cents, but you also realize that you’ve experienced what the author has experienced—many times perhaps—and you understand why her heart takes over her brain.

I went to New York City in March 2017 and had the chance to interview Joi-Marie Mckenzie, the same week as her book release. Of course, I had some questions for her about the engagement and marriage game, especially as it relates to career-driven women. 

When I met Joi-Marie, I immediately wondered, “who would want to wait to put a ring on her?” Her charismatic demeanor, cool confidence and radiant beauty automatically stood out. Well, she’s queen of the red carpet—would I expect her to show anything less? She’s interviewed A-list celebrities such as Spike Lee, Jennifer Hudson and Kerry Washington. But now the tables have turned as she takes a ride in the interview seat to discuss her newly released book, The Engagement Game.

Click here to see what the successful ABC News Producer, Joi Marie, had to say about men, women, and relationship success. 

Interview with Joi-Marie McKenzie