Miss Maryland Emails Her Cornell Sorority Sisters: ‘I Hope You Understand Exactly How Serious This Title Is’
On June 24, Cornell junior Joanna Guy vanquished 23 opponents to claim the Miss Maryland crown, which qualifies her to run for Miss America in 2013. Considering the nature of either pageant, it ought to surprise no one that Guy belongs to a sorority—Alpha Phi—and, until a few weeks ago, served as her chapter’s VP for recruitment. A couple of days after her victory, the new Miss Maryland sent her sorority sisters a lengthy letter of resignation from her duties as a house officer, after which it was forwarded to us. (Guy has confirmed its authenticity to IvyGate.)
The email is truly bizarre. Toward the beginning:
I hope that you can take a few minutes to understand exactly how serious this title is.
This, of course, refers her winning Miss Maryland. A third of which requires being judged while modeling a swimsuit and “evening wear.”
It gets weirder from there. She talks in the third person. She brags about opening Twitter and Facebook accounts for herself. Near the end, Guy writes: “I hope that with a better understanding you all can possibly understand the reasoning behind why I have to stay in Maryland.”
What’s clear is Guy’s equal devotion to Miss Maryland (and, by extension, Miss America) and her sorority. Choosing between them, she writes, amounts to “one of the hardest decisions I have ever been forced to make.” Which is a ridiculous statement because it’s so, so true: sorority recruitment and pageant publicity are, after all, exactly the same thing.
Miss Maryland’s email to her sorority sisters:
I hope that you are all having a good summer with a lot of success and fun! I’m missing you all a lot so if anyone is in the Maryland area, please visit me in Baltimore. I am writing to inform you about something that I can only describe as very painful, and one of the hardest decisions I have ever been forced to make.
As some of you may know, I was recently fortunate enough to win the title of Miss Maryland 2012. Although this is a great honor, a huge opportunity, and much of the time quite fun, it is also a full time job and an immense responsibility. Unfortunately, the responsibilities of my job as Miss Maryland will prevent me from returning to campus this fall. I will participate in the Cornell in Washington program so that I can remain in the Maryland region to fulfill my duties. Thus, it is with reluctance that I inform you that I have to resign from my position as the Vice President of Membership Recruitment.
In order for you to understand this, I hope that you can take a few minutes to understand exactly how serious this title is. I know that the word “pageant” evokes images of colorful gowns and extravagant parades, and brings to mind the silly antics of Miss Congeniality. While events during the actual pageant competition may justify some of these humorous stereotypes, few people realize what occurs after the winner attains the crown and sash. Contrary to popular perception, the new representative does not just “pack up and head home” after the pageant, occasionally picking up the phone to respond to festival appearance requests.
In fact, being a state titleholder in the Miss America organization is a demanding job. Since Miss America is the largest non-profit scholarship organization for women in the world, each state representative is a highly visible public figure who must engage with citizens, government officials, businesspeople and the media. She must represent the image and interests of the Miss America Organization and its sponsors and philanthropic partners. She is expected to recruit business sponsors and contestants, to act as an ambassador and role model, and to serve as a spokesperson and fundraiser for charitable causes. A good titleholder will also be active in advocacy and lobbying efforts at both the state and national levels. For example, just last weekend Miss Colorado 2006 testified in Congress about the negative effects of melanoma. In an average year, Miss America travels about 20,000 miles per month, and assists in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for causes such as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) and the U.S. Dream Academy. Each state representative, including Miss Maryland, does all of the same things within the geography of her state. To perform the job effectively, she must develop a comprehensive marketing strategy and communications plan that encompass personal appearances, traditional media, email, and social media. Needless to say, she must be organized, dedicated, flexible, well informed and articulate.
The best way I can explain this is to liken the responsibility of being Miss Maryland to managing a business—except I have no scheduler, no assistants, and no accountant. Already, I have created a dedicated Miss Maryland website and Facebook page, e-mail and twitter accounts, and a contact list of more than 500 names to begin marketing myself and my message. Since winning the title I have been interviewed on television, on the radio, and by the press.
I hope that with a better understanding you all can possibly understand the reasoning behind why I have to stay in Maryland. I am not resigning as VPMR because I want to. In fact, I wanted to come back to school and try to balance all of my responsibilities. However, I ultimately realized that would not be fair to either the organization who is paying me $15,000.00 in scholarship to do this job, or to Alpha Phi, which deserves the complete time and attention of its Membership Chair. Additionally, it was a huge personal sacrifice for me, as I was so looking forward to spending this year performing in my chorus and a cappella group, and spending time with my best friends, many of whom were abroad at sea and in Europe last semester.
I plan to be back from Miss America just in time for rush week, and stay involved in transitioning and planning throughout the year, just as I would have before. However, I am required to resign my formal title of VPMR due to the stipulation that executive board members must be living on campus.
If anyone has further questions for me, please ask, and I am sorry if anyone feels let down by me or disappointed in me. I will do all that I can to leverage my title as Miss Maryland to benefit our Delta Chapter through fundraising for heart awareness, marketing, and event planning. I know that Ali will be in touch soon with details on re-election.
Love and aoe* forever,
The motto section of this article contains content that is NOT ALLOWED to be PUBLIC. It is a sacred part of the chapter and needs to be removed immediately.
It’s an initialism for “Alethia Orno Eteronis,” which means something like “Truth, (I) Honor [or Adorn?] Forever.”