Monday, July 19, 2010

Miss New Mexico 2010: The Other Side of the Table

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to serve as a judge on the panel that would select our newest Miss New Mexico.  What an exciting experience!  I have to admit, however, that when Carol Henry, (Executive Director of the Miss NM Organization and my surrogate mama during the year I held the title) called to ask me to judge, I was a bit taken back.  I know that according to Miss America rules, a state titleholder must be "out of the system" for a number of years before she is eligible to sit on a judges panel.  Had I really already met the Out-of-System requirement?

Wow - Yes, I had.  It's just crazy to think that it's been seven years since I wore the Miss New Mexico crown.

Aside from the initial shock and following excitement, I turned into a nail-biter (figuratively speaking.  Well, literally speaking, too.)  In the months and weeks leading up to the pageant, I began to get nervous at the task at hand.  I had such an amazing experience as Miss New Mexico, and I desperately wanted to select a girl who would really take advantage of the title and learn and grow from it.  I wanted to select a girl who had worked hard to earn it, and who would be a gracious winner.

A few weeks before pageant time, I received my judges book in the mail.  Ah yes, the golden judges book.  I remembered how I had spent days - DAYS- perfecting my paperwork, looking for typos and asking everyone I knew to read over it for me.  I wanted to make sure that the information I submitted to the judges gave them the most accurate description of me, and gave them the clearest idea of what I was like as a person.

From the moment I found the box on my front porch, I poured myself into that judges book!  I meticulously read over each contestants information, making notes on things that were interesting - making notes on things I wanted to know more about.  I studied each girl's platform issue, and I looked to make sure each contestant had a true passion for that issue.  I made sure I had a list of educated and insightful questions to ask during the personal interview portion of the competition (no, this is not the on-stage portion the public gets to see.)  And yes, I looked to see if each and every one of those girls was on Facebook, and I looked at their pages.  (And no, I didn't find one bit of incriminating evidence against any of them - these were truly girls with great character.)

I was ready.

In the end, our judges panel selected an excellent titleholder, Madison Tabet.  It wasn't easy, though - we had a considerable number of contestants who would have made amazing Miss New Mexico's, and I hope that they each come back to compete in the coming years at their shot to wear the crown and more importantly, serve as a role model for people everywhere.

Madison Tabet, Miss New Mexico 2010.

Still, when the top five were being called out, I sat with my hands over my mouth, speechless, with a knot or ten in my stomach.  I was so nervous!  It was like I was competing all over again!  Needless to say, I knew how each one of the Top 5 were feeling at that point.

Miss New Mexico Pageant 2010 Top 5.

Madison met all of my criteria - she will make a fantastic Miss New Mexico, and I can't wait to see where she will go next.  In fact, Tiff and I are headed to Miss America in Las Vegas next January to watch.

What a wonderful experience - one that I will never, ever forget.  Special thanks to all of my Miss New Mexico family, and my new friends who served on the panel with me.

Fellow judge Phil Kimmi, with the Miss Missouri Org., and I goofing off backstage.

The other added plus?  The HUGE added plus?  My best gal pal in the world Tiffany Jewell was there too, and she was recruited to perform in the production numbers with a few of my Miss New Mexico sisters!  "You can't stop the beat!"

Tiffany Jewell (Miss Idaho 2003), Blake Marvin (American Idol Contestant) 
and Jenny Marlowe (Miss New Mexico 2007).

Best of luck to Madison at the Miss America Pageant this coming January!

Ta ta for now!


  1. Rana, thank you for being apart of this amazing event. It is so nice to have a former Miss NM to judge and more importantly how serious you took on this task. I know Madison will do well. Kelly made a wonderful addition to our pageant too. Thank you and I hope we will see you next year too. Best Wishes on all your endeavors and God Bless

  2. Becky Birdwell Walker, Miss New Mexico 1987July 21, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Loved reading every word about your judging experience. I, too, have a passion for judging--it's an awesome responsibility! I especially appreciate how you took careful consideration with each contestant to study her platform, goals and topics which are close to her heart. That extra work is vital in a good judge. It's exciting to know what's important to her prior to interview. Then, when you meet her in the interview room, it's like opening a fabulous gift.
    Now it's on to Miss America.......Go Maddie!!!!!


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