Everybody Wins! DC

Everybody Wins! is a reading mentoring program available to students in many elementary schools in the District (and other states). Throughout this year, I have been reading once weekly during our "power-lunch" at Brent Elementary with a student that has become very special to me.

The students volunteer to give up their recess period once a week to read with an adult mentor. This is no small sacrifice, yet the majority of the students choose to do it - a testament to their love of reading and their desire to have someone spend some extra time with them, one on one.

During the hour, we read of course, but we also work on vocabulary, make predictions about what will happen next in the story, and decide on which types of books we are most interested in - and which would make us want to read more!

Other literacy programs partner with Everybody Wins to provide free books for the students to keep in their home libraries a few times a year. Mentors may also go to the Scholastic Book Fair with their student reader.

The Everybody Wins program has been a highlight of my year of service as Miss District of Columbia. I am excited to go each week to read and see an enthusiasm for reading and learning. I am also very proud of my student reader for her excellent progress!

JLW Mission: Possible

The Junior League of Washington held its Annual Reception last Wednesday evening, celebrating a year of service to the community, much work in the ever-important field of literacy, and a generous scholarship donation to a local High School student.

The Loughborough House filled with Leaguers, friends, and community partners as outgoing JLW President, Betsy Hannah, presented Bell Multicultural High School senior Samrwait Kikru-Belew with a $10,000 check as the recipient of the Meg Graham scholarship. Sam will attend Perdue University.

Numerous other awards and recognitions followed as the JLW concluded another year of promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through action and leadership.

The Mission continues as incoming President Kristin Walberg Urbach takes the reigns and leads us into another impressive year.

(I was honored to be nominated to recieve a JLW Peer Award!)

Photo Shoot with Joe Whiteko

While in Georgia for a day of golf (I would later be at Sugarloaf for the AT &T Classic) I stopped in for a quick shoot with Joe Whiteko in Marietta. Joe took some of the fabulous pictures from Miss America that I have posted on my website and has followed my pageant career from its humble beginnings in Dawsonville, Georgia.

The results of the shoot were fantastic - and different than any photoshoot I've done before! One of the most interesting parts of the shoot was to use costuming and props - I so often am just modeling clothing or posing in an evening gown... so it was fun to be creative and let loose a bit! I have to give Joe an extra thanks for the unique KATE prop that he made especially for me.

APAICS Gala Dinner

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies started off it's 8th Annual Leadership Academy for Elected Officials last night at the JW Marriott Hotel. A working partner of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), this group certainly takes pride in its heritage and traditions. It was fun to see so many in native dress last night!

I met such notables as Senator Akaka from Hawaii, Congressman Honda from California, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, and the Honoree of the evening, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.

I was delighted to have the chance to sit and get to know more about some of the Academy members including Mr. Ken Chew, city Councilmember for the town of Moraga, California; Mr. Andrew Luzod, Mayor of the City of Melvindale, Michigan; and Mr. Michael Park, Mayor of the City of Federal Way, Washington - all seated at a table with me!

McDonald's Educates Scholarship Reception

The McDonald's Family Restaurants of Greater Washington D.C. honored 45 outstanding young leaders with scholarships for college at a reception this evening at the Tyson's Corner Marriott in McLean, Virginia.

In it's fourth year, this scholarship program celebrates students of proven character, leadership, and commitment to furthering their education. These 45 students will receive $1,500 scholarships to attend institutions of higher learning.
Having applied for a similar type of McDonald's community service scholarship as a high school senior, I understand the competitive nature of these awards and commend each student for such an outstanding achievement. It also speaks volumes that so many local owner/operators of McDonald's franchises were present to congratulate the students they helped to sponsor.

As the Miss America organization's mission closely ressembles that of the McDonald's Educates program, and my particular platform being so relevant to the evening, I was proud to be chosen the Keynote Speaker.

Students like Tam (pictured) will be freshmen in the Fall at colleges of their choice. (Tam was admitted to Rice and wants to double major in Political Science and French!)

The reception was a perfect way to showcase the students' achievements and encourage them to continue working toward many future successes. Oh - and another highlight of the evening... everyone, including me, got to take a picture with Ronald McDonald!

Mr. & Miss Randle Highlands Elementary School

Last Friday night a tradition was rekindled in Southeast D.C. The Randle Highlands Elementary School brought back the Mr. and Miss Randle Highlands Elementary Pageant that had been dormant for ten years. Thanks to PTA President Carol Lewis, the Kindergarten through 6th graders had the opportunity to shine in the glow of the stage lights and their parents beaming smiles.

There would be two phases of competition, talent and evening wear. Of course, the grades would not all compete against each other, but were divided into Mr./Miss Tiny RH, Mr./Miss Junior RH, and Mr./Miss RH. Yes, there were gentlemen in every age division!

The talents were the especially entertaining. Cheerers, dancers, vocalists, and even rappers took the stage. Not surprisingly, songs from the hit movie Dream Girls were abundant. One particularly memorable young man changed the words of a popular song to rap instead about his school and classmates!

The underlying purpose of the pageant was to fundraise for school programs. But as I shared with the audience before intermission, another major purpose was to provide the students with an opportunity to grow in their poise and self-confidence in the warmth and support of an encouraging community. I was overwhelmed by the display of pride Friday night - Congratulations to everyone who participated, and Bravo Ms. Lewis!!

UGA Bulldawg Breakfast

In April, I was asked to be the featured speaker at the UGA Alumni Association (in DC’s) Bulldawg Breakfast. McKenna, Long, and Aldridge generously donated space in their offices for the event, which mainly serves as a networking and relationship building experience for active alumni members.

I started out the discussion with an explanation of how the University of Georgia was a driving factor which led me to the District of Columbia, and how it was those in which it put me in contact who encouraged me to compete for the title. Of course, I had to give particular mention to my former boss and mentor, Senator Johnny Isakson.

Not surprisingly, most of the questions I was asked centered around my experiences at the Miss America pageant. I enjoy reliving my time on that stage, and I think I always will, but I most enjoyed answering questions about what pageantry (and other stage experience) has done for my self-esteem, confidence, and poise.

I learned a lot from the breakfast discussion and hope that those who attended to hear me speak did also. Thanks to Lindsey Moss, UGA Bulldawg Alumni in DC President, for inviting me to speak and share with my peers.

16th Annual Diabetes Fundraiser

Pictured: Me with a few of this year's Miss D.C. contestants

For 16 years and running, Dr. Douglas Sobel (along with the ever-enthusiastic Ken Beatrice), have put their time, effort, and outstanding fundraising skills into the Georgetown Diabetes Research & Education Program's Annual Fundraiser. As Mr. Beatrice says, "You never know which dollar is going to be the dollar which cures" this growing epidemic.

Each year, Miss District of Columbia and the contestants competing for the crown, attend the fundraiser and lend their support to the worthy cause. Ms. Betty Hemby coordinates this effort, organizing the girls to make the event especially fun for the children attending. There is a moonbounce, raffle, silent auction, live auction, dancing (with Miss D.C.!), a live band, and other entertainment!

This year's theme, "Spring into Action" for a Cure - will raise money to fund the Georgetown Diabetes Program's efforts, and the Miss District of Columbia Scholarship Organization is proud to support this event annually. I have had the opportunity to attend twice, and look forward to many more fun times in the future.

I Wanna Be A Rockette!

I'm at the Amtrak station at a quarter to 5 in the morning. My eyes are barely open, but my heart is already racing. Nerves!

Arriving in Manhattan a few hours later, I hail a taxicab; and as I direct him to Radio City Music Hall, I can finally start to calm. I’m here. I’m on time. I’m ready.

The line at 8:30 already stretched around the entire city block. As I took my place in it, I estimated 200 young girls in front of me, and over 300 would come behind. When auditions are announced at 10:00, it’s best to be there early.

I watched as group after group went in before me. A few walked out beaming – most exited already in tears. It’s such a long way to come to realize the harshness of the business, and so hard to keep going when rejected time and again.

My turn to enter the audition room. I relearned the steps, now familiar after years of auditions and memorizing the Christmas Spectacular. Three at a time we performed for the judge – the show choreographer herself! – and waited with bated breath to hear our names should they be called. I counted on my fingers as the named began… 16 in my group kept… and somewhere in there – Kate Michael! I was one of the beaming.

Of the over 500 talented young women who auditioned for the Rockettes yesterday, only approximately 75 were kept through the second round, and of course, less with each harsh cut. I’m proud to have been one of the last 30 or so, but sadly, won’t be featured in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular this year.

My lessons learned? Just like in Miss America, it’s hard not to be the last one standing, but at least in this case, should I choose to, I have the opportunity to try again. Dreams are dreams – until we make them reality.

NFTE: Dare to Dream Gala

The 10th Annual National Foundation for teaching Entrepreneurship Gala, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, was a "Venture Adventure" celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit and achievements of a class of future business leaders.

What began as a drop-out prevention program for students from low-income communities is now a nationwide curriculum for youth aged 11- 18 to enhance their economic productivity. NFTE provides courses that reinforce math, reading, and writing while developing entreprenurial skills in critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and decision making.

NFTE believes entrepreneurship can be taught and prooved this with several model examples at the 10th annual Gala. Aspiring entrepreneurs were recognized on stage for their achievements and even had the opportunity to "set up shop" outside the dinner to allow participants to see progress first-hand, and purchase their products!

I was grateful to have the opportunity to attend the event and meet these future business leaders. Thank you to Michael Cleary and Teri Galvez (pictured above with me and Sonya Gavankar, Miss D.C. 1997) for purchasing a seat for me at their table.

The Georgetown House Tour and Patron's Party

Last Thursday was the kick-off celebration for the Georgetown House Tour, the nation's oldest on-going house tour celebrating over 90 years! The Patron's Party, held this year at the old Dodge Mansion (now owned by my favorite "bachelor, " Bill Dean), was arguably one of the best in recent history. I certainly enjoyed myself!

Frida Burling, longtime supporter and organizer of the House Tour, was in attendance, as well as other hosts of homes on the tour and prominent Georgetown residents. As this was my first meeting with Frida, I was struck not only with her elegance and charm, but with her thorough knowledge of the neighborhood and its history!

Guests roamed the four story historic home that "includes numerous high-tech conveniences in an old-world setting" and enjoyed appetizers and cocktails from Fete Accomplie catering.
Saturday was the actual tour of homes around Georgetown. Although I was not able to participate, I heard the tour this year was unmatched. I wouldn't doubt it, if the line down P Street to tour Bill's home was any indication!

Doyle NewYork and Washington Fine Properties are major sponsors of the annual House Tour. The Tour benefits the ministries of St. John's Episcopal Church.

(Photo - Sitting Room in the old Dodge Mansion, location of the 2007 Georgetown House Tour Patron's Party.)
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