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: 

Hey Phis,

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,

Joanna

*Interesting tidbit: this apparently refers to Alpha Phi’s “secret handshake”, which was the subject of a recent Wikipedia controversy:

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.”

  • Melissa

    Wow you are abolutely delusional! You can tell it’s sincere if you take the time to read her letter! Plus, she’s just explaining her resignation which is partly for HELPING SICK KIDS and FUNDRAISING. How can you make fun of that? Do you have a soul!?!?

    • http://ivygateblog.com/ J.K. Trotter

      Oh, the letter’s totally sincere. That’s undoubtable. As for “HELPING SICK KIDS” and “FUNDRAISING”: those are certainly components of being Miss Maryland, but neither requires a pageant to perform.

      Can anyone explain why these pageants exist? (Saying that Miss America distributes a lot of scholarship money is not an argument, sorry. You should not have to undress yourself in order to pay for college.)

      • Melissa

        This initially drew my attention because a previous Miss New York was a friend of mine. I watched her confidence, speaking skills, and passion for service grow throughout her participation in the system. And yes, she was also able to pay for college in a society where student loans have now exceeded 1 trillion dollars. To dismiss the argument that scholarship money is irrelevant is, on your part, quite foolish.
        I believe this adequately covers “why pageants exist.” To address your second concern: many women around the world are still unable to show their bodies without being punished or ashamed. It’s wonderful that women in the United States are not held back by such oppressive restrictions. Maybe it would not be your choice to be assessed onstage, but I stress the fact that it is a CHOICE. Should swimmers not be offered athletic scholarships because they are required to swim in a bathing suit? I guess they decide that for themselves…

        • Melissa

          To dismiss the argument that scholarship money is RELEVANT is, on your part, quite foolish*

        • Feminazi

          hahahah the one thing you have gojng for you is that you’re consistent in your startling idiocy.

      • http://twitter.com/SioConnellan Siobhan Connellan

        I can’t believe you’re an editor for an online publication and can’t see that the third-party references were to the title/position and not to herself. As for the relevancy of pageantry… I think relevance is the wrong question. One could argue that football is irrelevant. The question should be is there something to be gained by participating? Within the Miss America system there are scholarships, interview skills, and once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities. A little publication called Forbes recently ran this quote from Miss America 2002, Katie Harmon Ebner: “Miss America contestants are uniquely brave women, with
        confidence enough to not only celebrate and display their beauty and intellect,
        but talent as well. Fearlessly, contestants share their talents with an audience
        to bring light to another facet of their personality, and ultimately, their
        ability to be a well-rounded titleholder. I believe each person is gifted with
        special talents specific to them. In competition, I observed the importance of
        sharing those talents and also appreciating the talents of others. People are
        touched and inspired by your vulnerability when you give of your whole
        self…especially the best of you. To excel in your career, women must be
        confident enough to display their unique talents and strengths. When you do
        what YOU do best, your productivity increases.” Mr. Trotter, I encourage you to bravely go forth and find what you do best. Hint: This isn’t it.

  • Torie

    All this blog post portrays is that jealousy is an extremely ugly trait. What I get out of Joanna’s email is that she cares equally about her sorority and her Miss Maryland title. Like she said, being Miss Maryland is not always about being glamorous, but about getting her message out there, establishing relationships throughout the state of Maryland, and promoting her platform, which is also one Alpha Phi raises money for. Alpha Phi should be thankful that Joanna has chosen to promote their cause and be proud that Miss Maryland is a part of their system. With that being said, I hope that whomever is responsible for this misleading blog post is willing to support Joanna throughout her journey as MIss Maryland 2012 and realize everything she has to offer for Alpha Phi and the entire Greek system.

    • Common People

      Here’s why, because the only thing more trivial and banal than than being in a sorority is being in a fcuking beauty pageant. One would think that a woman bright enough to get into Cornell would at the very least possess some modicum of self-awareness. Apparently not.

      Anyone older than 6 years old who states that this “is the most difficult decision of my life” has lived such a privileged and pointless existence that it makes even this Ivy Leaguer blush.

    • http://twitter.com/Lia_Bia Lia

      jealousy of what? being busy being popular isn’t a thing.

  • J.K. Trotter SuperFan

    Trotter, this isn’t news. It isn’t even gossip. You literally just copy and pasted an entire 700 word email and added a few sentences of summary. Get a real job bro.

  • YaleCornell

    The irony is JK Trotter doesn’t realize his “job” is more superficial than Ms. Rhode Islands.

  • Lindsay M.

    I was in a sorority and I also competed in the Miss
    America Organization. What is bizarre about the combination, which you condemn with
    sarcastic astonishment, “considering the nature of either pageant…that Guy
    belongs to a sorority,” is why you think that this letter is newsworthy, or
    even gossip, by a stretch. Is it wrong for a young person to have conviction
    about the organizations in which she chooses to participate? I’m not exactly sure
    why you care if she is in a sorority or if she’s a state titleholder. I’m also not
    exactly sure why you find it shocking that the decision to return to school or
    devote herself to a job that could literally change the course of her future,
    is one of the hardest decisions she has had to make. This is a character of
    youth, and I say thank goodness we have a young woman willing to stand for
    something with such vehemence in the eye of the scrutinizing public, when she
    could be spending her time otherwise, in whatever negative way your mind could
    (and obviously does) imagine. And the bathing suit thing, really really ought to be let go, given up, declared
    as a dead horse, on which no more beatings are needed. And by let go I mean not
    by the Miss America Organization, but the concept that it somehow objectifies
    my body or the bodies of all the girls competing before and after me, should be
    put out to pasture by those so forgetful of my (and our) coherent, decisive and
    educated ability to chose what the hell I want to do with my body. This is
    third wave feminism at its finest, and if you don’t think that I can wear a bathing
    suit on stage if I damn well want, for preservation of my morals or whatever
    equally as oppressive reasoning you can slap together), then you can go back to
    join the graying hair of the first wave, you know, the one who told us simple
    little ladies that we had to have morals in the first place. GET OVER IT. It
    wasn’t my body, my dress, my classical piano talent, or my brain that allowed
    me the HONOR to let my voice be heard above those too shy, too afraid, too uninterested,
    or to unconcerned to make a difference, however small that might be, in the
    world. It was the total package that held within it all those elements. It is
    that package that gave me the opportunity to get through college with only a
    small fraction of student loans remaining – and by small I mean less than 10%
    of the $120,000 my college education (and a damn good one) – because my family,
    not one of them ever a college graduate, couldn’t afford to put me through.
    Literally, the Miss America Organization paid my way. Judge me if it makes you
    feel better or your slow news day seem shorter, but I came out (by no luck, but
    by dedication and passion) on the better end of the hand I was dealt, and so
    did Joanna.

    • hi

      Um, you’re getting pretty defensive when no is attacking you. Seriously, all Trotter did was make fun of a sorority for her ridiculouse sounding e-mail, no one cares that you paid for college with Ms America. Good for you, but don’t yell at us about it…

    • Janet

      “It wasn’t my body, my dress, my classical piano talent, or my brain that allowed
      me … to make a difference …It was the total package that held within it all those elements.”
      Do you realize how delusional you sound? Miss America is a tits and ass competition sponsored by gay male designers and Donald Trump.

      • Torie

        Donald Trump is part owner of the Miss USA organization. Miss America is a completely different pageant. Miss American organization gives scholarship money and the opportunity to speak about causes that the winner cares deeply about. so before you make comparisons, get to know Joanna and learn the facts about the subject you are degrading.

      • Hello

        Miss America is in no way affiliated with Donald Trump, who is partial owner of the Miss Universe (and Miss USA) organization. Miss America is not a “tits and ass” competition, proven by the fact that talent (35%) and interview (25%) heavily outweigh swimsuit (15%) and evening gown (20%) in the composite score. Please make factually sound arguments.

      • Hello

        Miss America is in no way affiliated with Donald Trump, who is partial owner of the Miss Universe (and Miss USA) organization. Miss America is not a “tits and ass” competition, proven by the fact that talent (35%) and interview (25%) heavily outweigh swimsuit (15%) and evening gown (20%) in the composite score. Please make factually sound arguments.

        • ZJ

          The fact that evening gown and swimsuit comprise 40% of the score makes the rest of your post laughable.

          • http://twitter.com/karinagw Karina Wright

            The fact that you think that 15 + 25 = 40 makes your comment laughable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/k8fearsnoart Kate Johnson

            Umm, 15 + 25 DOES = 40…

          • Larry

            we’re laughing with you, I promise

    • Torie

      preach gf!!!!

    • Linda

      You seem pretty defensive and mad that some people judge you for parading onstage in a bikini for money. Feeling shame, perhaps?

  • LadyOfPlantDeath

    She wants to do something ‘serious’? Oh please. She ought to talk to a service member that has to explain to his or her kids that they have to leave for nine months and may not come back.

    • Please

      You mean those people who “serve” as mere pawns of the pro-war agenda, in exchange for generous salary and benefits, to “defend our freedom”?

      • MarkTwain

        why are you even making that comparison? i doubt she would put her title on the level of a serviceman/woman.

        don’t knock her because she takes her title seriously…not everyone is going to be in the armed service…the doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be serious about their work.

      • TBS

        OK, Typical Brown Student

        • Bruno92

          @TBS : FU

        • Bruno92

          @TBS : FU

      • LadyOfPlantDeath

        You’re pathetic. I hope you don’t have friends in the military if that’s how you really feel. Salaries are far from generous and often times, the benefits they receive come at an extraordinarily high cost.

        • Please

          Do the simple research, my friend. For example, National Guardsmen are paid a starting salary of $38,000, which crushes the US MEDIAN salary of $27,000. Then there’s the long list of government benefits, including free housing, free education, free healthcare, and free food. Sounds like the definition of a mercenary, no? Let me know what the typical worker gets in total compensation; it won’t even be close. Idiots like you blindly worship these people as if they’re being forced into battle. I’d like to see how many of them would fight for NO COMPENSATION.

          Haven’t you heard of the military-industrial complex? It clearly exists.

          • Hell Yeah

            Sounds like someone’s mad that they only pull $15k as a humanities grad student.

          • not ivy

            oh, gee, $38k, what a fortune…

  • PalinPrez

    This is exactly the kind of stuff that happened to Sarah Palin. A bright woman plucked from obscurity to run for the second most powerful office in the world ran into nothing but derision and bile purely because of her looks, intelligence, beautiful family and not to mention her love of America. Miss Guy is getting a dose of the real world full of vindictive and jealous tools particularly from the left of the political spectrum. This is Obama’s America which is turning into another Kenya.

    • Nailin’ Palin

      Nope. You’re a certified moron with no political opinions of your own. Goodbye.

    • ZJ

      I hope this post was made in jest. If so, brilliant use of sarcasm! “Sarah Palin” and “bright woman” should only appear together if that whackjob gets struck by lightning or wanders into a nuclear testing facility without a hazmat suit on…

    • Don

      Please, give us your fascinating and original thoughts on the vindictive, left-wing lame-stream media.

    • Bruno92

      @PalinPrez : FU delusional waste of sperm !!!!!!!

  • SoCerebral

    There was nothing wrong with the email or its contents. The only questionable content here is from the snarky blogger who is clutching at straws to create drama where there is none. And for the record, I have no interest in pageants or Miss Anything contents in general, so I consider myself an objective observer.

  • GothamNYC

    The whole story is ridiculous. Joanna is doing her thing– regardless of your feeling on beauty pageants. Yes, she took herself too seriously in that e-mail, but newsworthy? Come on.

    The writer is a loser. This girl might not be the next president, but don’t slam someone for taking in life seriously. You took a real positive moment in this girl’s life and added a negative to it. For what?

    Look at yourself in the mirror, man. You’re pathetic.

  • h20andoil

    She won the title for Ms Smug already, I’d say. Just say I’m sorry I don’t have the time to commit to both, I’m deeply vested in the future of the sorority and will help out whenever possible. Not complicated. Instead of this, ugh I have to travel, I have this burden, and it’s so hard. What does she think politicians do? It’s the same thing. What about working parents? Same thing. I mean, great, you believe in noble causes, but you’re on of 50+, that happens every year. Don’t get too caught up in yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/Lia_Bia Lia

    what’s ‘heart awareness’ ??? awareness we have one? that it might break?

  • Jackie Treehorn

    Holy moly, there are some angry people out there! I suggest drinking copious amounts of booze and everyone chilling the eff out.

  • IvyWasteland

    Terrible article. Reminds me why the only time I come to this website is to see trash that appears on my FB mini feed.

    Where’s the story? Who cares that she wrote an uber-serious email?

    Hope this girl isn’t too upset about this garbage.

  • Gwen

    yeah, this email really wasn’t ridiculous at all… it was actually a lot more well-written than I expected, given the article’s introduction

  • Guest

    “Alethia Orno Eteronis” is gibberish in latin.

  • A 8

    This Cornell student proves that, for a beauty pageant winner, all of the excitement and new opportunities are not as satisfying as sending an e-mail to your sorority sisters which says, “I’m prettier than you are.”

  • LiveAndLetLiveMaryland

    I applaud Miss Maryland for not wanting to remain in a vital post for her sorority, knowing that she would be unable to do it justice while serving as Miss Maryland. Her message says to me that she is giving the Miss Maryland opportunities undivided focus, but she cares that her sorority can staff its VPMR with someone able to wholeheartedly commit to its requirements and get the recognition she deserves for taking on the responsibility. That is maturity, knowing she cannot be all for all people at the same time.