The Mrs. DC America Pageant publicly recognizes beautiful married women, living and/or working within a 25-mile radius of Washington, DC, who have obtained personal, professional and community achievements. An official preliminary pageant to Mrs. America and Mrs. World, the Mrs. DC America Pageant welcomes women from all ethnic backgrounds to compete in a yearly pageant for the title of Mrs. DC America.
We had the chance to sit down with 2014’s Mrs. DC America, Meredith Egwuatu, to talk about her platform, how it felt to be crowned, and how she keeps herself in shape…
Congratulations on the Mrs. America fitness award! You look so beautiful and fit. Is your body naturally that way or did you have to prepare yourself? What does your fitness routine look like?
Thank you! Competing at Mrs. America took a great deal of preparation and some lifestyle changes. As a working mother and wife, it was important for me to incorporate daily habits that would positively affect the way I felt and looked into my day-to-day routine. I worked out with Stacey Adams of Fitness Together Central, Georgetown, twice a week before I went into the office. I also made simple changes to my dietary routine, which made a big difference for my family. We started to shop for organic foods and began researching meals that were easy and healthy to prepare. I started preparing meals on the weekends for my family, and planning what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. We started to save money and now we are healthier as a family; just by preparing in advance. It also makes for a simple fun quick evening out with my husband when we get to [go out and] explore new foods, vegetables, and spices together!
My Latin Background is Mexican-American. My father is Mexican-American and so are my grandparents, great-grandparents, and so-forth. I have always had a very strong connection to my Hispanic roots. I naturally came to love the food, music, and, most of all, the people. Within the Latin culture, we have a very strong connection to family. Secondary only to my faith in God, family is the most important aspect of life to me. No matter where my career and life takes me, family always remains a top priority. We also pride ourselves on appreciation and respect – that is one thing that my grandmother has always taught me.
When I first moved to the Washington, DC area the first thing that I missed was good Mexican food. Amen. I had to quickly learn how to cook the foods myself by using my family’s old recipes. I knew it was important to keep my family healthy and strong. I found ways to substitute parts of a recipe to ensure that they fit within a healthy and clean diet. For example, one of my all-time favorite Latin dishes is Calavasita. However, I substitute chicken instead of pork, which provides my family with a [more] nutritious meal filled with protein and vegetables, while still staying true to the Latin spices such as Cuminos or Pico De Gallo Con Limon.
When preparing foods at home, try to choose the recipes with less cheese and more protein! Mid-week enchiladas are okay, but we can’t eat them every night! Instead of those favorite cheesy enchiladas, try vegetable enchiladas in a spicy Verde sauce.
In what ways would you like to influence the self-esteem of other Latinas? Would you like to empower the younger generation? Working professionals? Moms?
I am fortunate in life to have found my purpose at a young age. I was 19-years-old when I took my first leadership empowerment class at The University of Texas and I knew immediately that it was my calling. I have strong faith in God, and I feel blessed to have such a strong passion for the empowerment of our youth.
There has never been such a time as today, where Latinas have more opportunities than ever before. We have faced significant obstacles over the last few generations, but there is something very special about [living in] a time such as this. Fortune 500 companies are investing a tremendous amount of resources to ensure diversity within their corporations. Hispanic women and men are needed in the fields of Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering. Latinas today need to know that outer beauty is not enough to cut it in today’s competitive environment – we must invest in our inner strengths. One thing I know about Latinas is that we are passionate, driven, and we care about the health and wellbeing of those around us. Applying these same strengths to the corporate world can provide a great deal of success in the areas of innovation, improvement, and teambuilding. I believe that we need to see more Latinos and Latinas represented in the Executive Branch, Congress, Fortune 500 companies, and acting roles. Our great grandparents, grandparents, and parents have fought so hard to provide us with the opportunities we have today. It’s important that we represent our heritage with the same strength and class. Our strength is our beauty.
Self-esteem was an area that I used to struggle with in my teen years. I wish I had known then what I know now about myself. Had I known my strength, my inner beauty, and my purpose I would not have dealt with self-esteem issues the way I did. I want to be a voice for those teenagers and [all] those who are struggling with self-esteem issues, [and I want] to leave them with a reminder that they are valuable, beautiful, and strong!
Your platform is in Stem education. Why is this something you are passionate about? In what specific ways would you like to see this in the classroom?
I am passionate about STEM education because I know all too well that the future of our country lies in the hands of the next scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. The United States of America, and the world, is desperate for innovation, resourcefulness, and creative solutions to help solve some of our greatest problems. I believe that the next generation has more resources and opportunities that ever before to truly make an impact.
I am passionate about STEM education because I know how important it is. Currently, I work as a director for a small IT firm serving the United States Federal Agencies in providing innovative technology solutions. As part of my role, I am required to attend conferences to discuss technology and the impact in will have on the future of our nation. At these events, I am usually amongst the small representation of women and an even smaller representation of minority women. I am excited for the future, and hope to see all voices and big thinkers represented.
Oh and by the way, those who don’t think STEM is glamorous- think again! Glamour is beauty. There is nothing more beautiful than uncovering health care solutions to help millions of sick people around the world or developing policies and technology solutions to help our United States Veterans who continuously make the ultimate sacrifices for our country. And these are just examples of ways that people are working within STEM fields today.
Please share with us the experience you had attending the Hispanic heritage foundation award ceremony? You mentioned it felt empowering, in what ways?
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is a TREMENDOUS organization, headquartered right here in Washington, DC. I was so honored and blessed to have been introduced to the organization through a mutual friend who is also considered a leader in the Hispanic community.
My experiences with The Hispanic Heritage Foundation have only served as a reminder of the tremendous opportunities that are available for Latino leaders who are aspiring to be trendsetters and to leave a national impact on our community. The foundation has been incredibly successful in promoting and preparing Latino leaders through national leadership, cultural, educational and workforce programs.
One of my favorite experiences as Mrs. District of Columbia has been to walk to the Red Carpet at The Hispanic Heritage Awards with my beautiful husband. Together, we had an amazing opportunity to join[with them] in celebrating some of the most distinguished Latino and Latina leaders in our nation. I was truly humbled to be a guest at this memorable evening. I left with a feeling of pride and joy! The Hispanic Heritage Awards also served as an important reminder to me that there are no limits to the achievements we can accomplish.
Where can people find more information on the Hispanic heritage foundation?
People can find out more information on the Hispanic Heritage Foundation at http://www.hispanicheritage.org/.
The 2015pageant is coming up, what advice do you have for the contestants?
Be yourself!!! You are beautiful, strong, and courageous, and no matter what happens know that this night is a celebration of you as a mother, wife, and the backbone behind our community and your family!