Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Courageous Beauty Interview: Miss Maryland US 2009-Nicole Ortiz

Angie: It looks like Maryland really produces some amazing women. We've met Mrs. Maryland Galaxy, International, and now we get to meet Miss Maryland US, Nicole Ortiz!

Angie: Nicole, what interested you in pageants?

Nicole: Like many young women that compete, I remember staying up late to watch the live pageant telecasts. Also, my parents are both from the Philippines-- the nation has a long history of pageantry. I competed for the title of Miss Teen Philippines USA in 2001 and was first runner-up.

Angie: What is your platform?

Nicole: For most of my life, I struggled with both anorexia and bulimia. It was a natural (but difficult) choice to select my platform-- “No Body’s Perfect,” which aims to increase awareness of eating disorders. Through the year, it has evolved to include health and wellness education as well as esteem building which are all important in combating the diseases. 

After first workshop, a young girl no older than 9 years old approached me and said I inspired her to stop skipping meals. I knew then, I had made the right decision. 

Angie: How do you build your platform and promote your work?

Nicole: For years, I worked with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education promoting achievement in the classroom to 8th and 9th graders in the city of Baltimore. In building my platform, I knew I wanted to reach a similar audience because it’s such an important period of transition. I’ve since had the pleasure of teaming with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, speaking to young girls and teens about the challenges they face and how nutrition plays a critical role in their lives.

Angie: Why did you decide to compete?

Nicole: When I re-entered the pageant world in 2007, it meant more than just winning a title, it was about sharing my story through the crown.

Angie: Was/is competition scary?

Nicole: The competition is the fun part! But the time I spent reflecting on who I was and the legacy I wanted to leave within the community? Intense. 

Angie: What personal fear did you have to overcome? 

Nicole: Believe it or not I was a very shy growing up. One of my earliest childhood memories involves me crying in front of a classroom full of my peers during show and tell. Luckily, I have since shaken my fear of public speaking!

Angie: What did you have to learn to compete?

Nicole: Perseverance was a great lesson to learn. In 2009 I won my first state title—as they say, third time’s a charm!

Angie: Please tell us about a goal, why it's been a goal, and what it means to you?

Nicole: In December I plan on completing the MBA program at Loyola University Maryland. Returning to school has afforded me a second chance at finding passion in my professional career. I am very much enjoying my marketing concentration—the industry is constantly changing and I look forward to seeing where the newest wave of media will take us.

Angie: Who do you most want to emulate?

Nicole: My younger siblings both have qualities that I admire. My sister is the ‘path less traveled’ type and has always lived her life in her own way. And my brother has the heart of a saint—he is very active in the Baltimore community. I think their examples have definitely pushed me in directions I never would have imagined and therefore contributed to my success.

Angie: Do you have a mentor?

Nicole: I consider my parents to be my mentors—I would not be speaking with you today about my accomplishments had it not been for their unwavering support.

Angie: How do you handle the feelings of disappointment?

Nicole: I always keep the Serenity Prayer close because there are just some things that are beyond your control.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Angie: What kind of an education do you have or are you pursuing? 

Nicole: I have a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park and am currently finishing my Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing at Loyola University Maryland. There is so much responsibility in being both a Terrapin and a Greyhound—I hope to continue their traditions of leadership and service with my title and future endeavors.

Angie: Do you have other creative talents you pursue?

Nicole: I love to cook. Preparing a meal is one of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to bring my family and friends together and let them know I care. One of the highlights of my year is attending the Baltimore Book Festival this past fall and assisting Food Network Chef Ingrid Hoffman during a live demonstration!

Angie: Do you think it is important for a person to look their best?

Nicole: Absolutely! Although, I have one exception to this rule—the gym. It’s not a fashion show ladies, I’m in there to work—just ask my trainer!

Angie: Would you share about your fashion favorites, flair, or a tip that makes you feel beautiful?

Nicole: Being a full time student, I have learned to stretch my wardrobe.  I am a huge fan of accessories—it’s amazing what a bold piece of jewelry, colorful scarf or oversized handbag can do to transform old favorites.

Angie: What compliment do you receive most often?

Nicole: People often tell me I have a great smile. I have my parents and orthodontist to thank for that J

Angie: What are you most confident about?

Nicole: I am most confident that my role in the community will only grow stronger from here on out. 

Angie: How did you earn that sense of confidence?

Nicole: I say that because there is just no way I can walk away from the partnerships I have formed with organizations in and around Maryland, i.e. the National Eating Disorder Association, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, the Children’s Guild and USO-Metro just to name a few. This year was just the tip of the iceberg—my calendar is already filling up with speaking engagements and workshops for 2010!

Angie: What would you like to share with interview readers?

Nicole: Today I received a string of negative and anonymous comments about myself and other women in the pageant community on my blog. While I find this incident to be unwarranted and extremely frustrating, it is a great reminder that, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”—Eleanor Roosevelt. 

At this point, there is nothing that will derail my progress in academia, business and certainly pageantry!

Speaking of blogs, I invite you to “Become a Fan” and follow mine:

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA):

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM):

The Children’s Guild:

USO Metropolitan Washington:

Dress for Success:

Angie: Nicole, I'm so glad you took the time to share with us today. Thank you :-)

RiteCare Childhood Language Program:
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