Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Competitive Image Trunk Show

One of the many perks of becoming an International titleholder is a fabulous wardrobe sponsored by the Competitive Image! This was my third trip to Dothan, Alabama, home of the Competitive Image, within a year, so it is becoming very familiar, and one of my favorite places!! I was so excited to see everyone- Joey, Clay, Terri, and the rest of the Competitive Image crew. Terri helped me refill my Clay Spann cosmetics collection which I was running low on, and Joey helped me pick some beautiful wardrobe pieces that I will wear at Nationals this year!

Sherri Hill was there and it was great to meet her- she was as fabulous as the gowns she designs! Of course, seeing my wonderful Director, Mary Richardson, was a highlight; she is like a second mom to me and I just love getting together with her!

After my shopping extravaganza, my mom and I visited with current teen and Miss contestants. I met Avery, Miss Teen South Carolina International, Ashley, Miss Alabama International, and Dawn, Mrs. Pennsylvania International. I also got a chance to catch up Megan, Miss Teen Southeast International, and Margo, Miss Teen Maryland International. Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting a former titleholder, Patty, Mrs. South Carolina 2008.

Although our appointment was at 1:30pm, we had so much fun socializing with everyone that we didn’t leave until almost 8 o’clock at night!

Juliana McKee

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Joy of Adoption Gets Another Spotlight

Update: The article is live!!! http://thepageantplanet.com/closeup-with-mrs-international-2010-shannon-devine.html


I was contacted last week to “share my story” with others via the Pageant Planet. I have been incredibly blessed as Mrs. International! I have had the opportunity to grace the covers of many magazines, radio shows, etc. My hope is that I have reached at least one family in need of support and encouragement!

My interview with lead journalist, Candace Howard is now complete! Stay tuned for the entire story! I’m sure she’ll include a photo or two of Miss Magic!

Thank you Candace! I appreciate your interest in highlighting my year as Mrs. International. www.thepageantplanet.com
 Until next post, remain blessed!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Visiting The Competitive Image

I had such a great time in Dothan at The Competitive Image! I have never been able to go into a store devoted to “pageant clothes” and try on so many beautiful things. Joey has a great eye for what will look good on me and what I will like – he was right on with everything! I would LOVE to share pictures of what I bought, but I think it should be a surprise, so….

I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in, and I was taken back to Clay’s studio and asked, “Do you notice anything??” There was my picture on the wall! I was selected as one of the pictures they chose to blow up for the studio – what a wonderful compliment!

I can’t thank Joey & Terry enough! I walked away with some more fantastic Clay Spann make-up as well. A wonderful visit & well worth the 8 hour round trip drive & plane ride to get there!!

Ashley Smith

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Easter is a big deal for my family. Early in the morning, my siblings and I get up and my Dad photographs us as we excitedly rush down the staircase to find our Easter baskets, which are not only overflowing with candies and treats, but also stockpiled with necessities like socks, cute tops, and lip gloss. One of my favorite items this year was a big, rhinestoned crown keychain!

Checking out my Easter basket!

After sorting through our goodies, we all go to Church in our new Easter outfits. When we were younger, my mom used to dress us in matching outfits. Now that we are ages 11-19, my mother takes mercy on us by allowing us to wear non-matching outfits- thank goodness!

With the family, heading off to church, Easter morning!

After mass, we head over to my Grandmothers for Easter Brunch. She is still a great cook and a wonderfully energetic host at 87 years old. She even still decorates for every holiday- I hope I will age as gracefully as she has!

Each year, my family hosts a huge Easter egg hunt where we fill thousands of plastic Easter eggs with candy, temporary tattoos, bouncy-balls, and other toys and treats and hide them inside and outside the house. This year we hosted it along with Easter dinner for my Dad’s side of the family, along with some family friends and neighbors.

All 16 of my McKee cousins were in attendance, so we also took advantage of the opportunity while we were all together and celebrated 4 of my cousins birthdays. So between Easter egg stuffing, hiding, hunting, and dying, dinner, birthday cake, presents, and- of course- being together with all of my family and friends, it was a very fun filled night!

On my paperwork for Nationals, it asked what my favorite family tradition is. I remember laboring over the question, having a hard time figuring out what my favorite tradition was, when Easter-season rolled around and I realized that Easter was my favorite tradition. I remember at Nationals it was so fun and easy to talk about my favorite tradition to my judges. It really showed them a huge part of who I was and allowed me to relate to them on a personal level.

Remember that, both when you’re filling out your paperwork, and when you’re talking to your judges be as real and open as you can be. You want to show them who you are as a person, not just as a title-holder or a contestant. You want things you put on your paperwork to be things you really do love that you can get excited about, in the same why that I could get excited about talking about my family’s Easter traditions. The wonderful time that we had this Easter just reinforced that.

Juliana McKee

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pictures for Soldiers

I was contacted recently by Miss Houston International, Melissa Delgadillo. Melissa was one of the contestants I met while she was competing this year for the title of Miss Texas International! She is very active in her community and throughout the entire state of Texas and is a wonderful representative of our International Pageant System.

She asked if I would sign some of my autograph cards to be included in packages she was sending to our soldiers overseas – I was so honored!! It is the LEAST I can do for those who do so much for me.

I also included some for some girls that she mentors and for Melissa too!
Ashley Smith

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Laytonsville Memorial Day - Salute our Heroes Parade

I was honored to be asked to represent the International Pageant System and ride in the Salute our Heroes Parade in Laytonsville, Maryland, a small town in the suburbs outside Washington, DC- and my home town! This parade was not only special to me because it is a big, annual celebration in my hometown, but also because I come from a Navy family. My grandfather on my mom’s side was a Naval Aviator and served during World War 2, the Korean War and Vietnam, so the idea of a parade to honor those who have served our country in the military, especially on National Armed Forces Day, was definitely appealing to me.

As I checked in for the parade, I was greeted by Mrs. Donovan, who was my fourth grade teacher at Laytonsville Elementary School (L.E.S.). When I was in fourth grade, Mrs. Donovan had been teaching at L.E.S. for 31 years, and she retired soon after I graduated, however, she often still substitute teaches at L.E.S. and had the pleasure to meet my younger brother Mac who had proudly told her that I was Miss Teen International and had even brought her one of my autograph cards that she told me was on her refrigerator. I told her that I would love to autograph an autograph card for her and did so- she was so excited.

Originally, I was to ride in an antique Rolls Royce, but unfortunately due to mechanical problems with the vehicle at the last minute- I guess you can only rely so much on an antique- I rode in the back of my very own car, a Chrystler Sebring convertible. Some of the skills I have learned as a titleholder are to always be prepared for anything and everything and to adapt to whatever circumstances get thrown my way; I think I exercised these skills well in this situation!

I also got to try out my sign that the wonderful ladies at WKRP had made up for me- “Miss Teen International”- complete with the famous crown and roses logo; it was so much fun and all of the members of the audience were excited to know that Miss Teen International was born and raised in Laytonsville! My younger brother marched with the Boy Scouts of America and my Dad stayed on the parade route as the dutiful photographer. He kept telling people, “that’s my daughter!” When the parade was over, we stopped at the local 7 11. I come from a very small town and there is one little strip shopping center, where the 7-11 is the high light. It was filled with parade participants doing the same thing as I was, beating the heat with a slurpee!

The whole day- capped off with a “fun run” and the annual Laytonsville Spring Festival, which I have been celebrating every year since I was in kindergarden- was a heart warming time and reminded me that no matter where life takes you, you can’t forget your roots, where you come from, and the people and places that make you who you are.

Juliana McKee

Monday, May 23, 2011

Triumph Over Adversity

“Triumph over Adversity” Halle-Grace’s adoption story
reaches others with a message of hope

As Mrs. International, I continue to be overwhelmed and humbled at the unique opportunities presented that allow me to continue sharing my message of hope through our adoption story. After experiencing first hand the emotional and physical difficulties of the adoption process, I have focused my efforts this year on continuing to educate and raising awareness about the adoption journey and help others build their own families through the miracle of adoption.

Recently, a new state of the art hospital was built in the county where I grew up and my parents still call home. “Triumph over Adversity” is a unique project with sole focus on various members in the community who have overcome a form of hardship and are now thriving and inspiring others. The idea for the project was born of the understanding that people in a hospital are often in pain or fear. There is comfort in finding role models who have faced difficulties and overcome their obstacles.

Do you recognize two of the individuals selected?

Photo by Lucy Parker Photography

Halle-Grace’s adoption story was selected to give others hope! Her story is forever on the wall at Lincoln Medical Center to inspire others.

Photo by Lucy Parker Photography

Jason was also selected after completing RAAM (Race Across America) in June of 2007 to raise awareness about the importance of Organ Donation. In September 2007, Jason became a living donor for his friend Scott Thornburg.

Photo by Lucy Parker Photography

CMC-Lincoln Art Advisory Committee entrusted Lucy Parker of Lucy Parker Photography (a great friend of mine) with the Triumph over Adversity project, their decision was based on both the quality of Lucy’s pictures and on the emotional connection that Lucy expressed to the spirit of the project. Lucy’s own life-long fight over her own birth defects gave her unique insight into Triumph over Adversity. Lucy was born premature, with only one lung. At her birth, doctors told her mother she would not live. Lucy not only lived and grew to be a thriving adult, but also fought hard to stretch her limits. Today she runs marathons with one lung and I am honored to call her my friend.

A group photo of the faces and stories that made "Triumph over Adversity" come to life.

Shannon Devine

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Muffins for Moms

The greatest LOVE story of all time continues…

Being Mrs. International is a job of service. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others. I have been encouraged each day through this system to continue my passion “Building Families through the Miracle of Adoption”. Halle-Grace continues to amaze me daily! We have shared so many amazing memories this year and I am forever grateful to the International Pageant System for the opportunity to SHINE a brighter light on adoption.

Last week I had the honor of attending “Muffins with Moms” with Miss Magic. Halle-Grace was so excited that mommy was going to school with her for a special treat. Here are some memories of our special morning together. As you will read, she feels connected to the International Pageant as well. At three years old, she knows we work hard at the “pageant”.

Mrs. Sheri told all of the mothers in attendance, “Moms, I write down exactly what your child says”. I was excited to be prettier than a dinosaur (John Michael’s words to his mom), and considering ice cream is her favorite treat, I was filled with excitement when she said “Mom is sweeter than ice cream”. My heart was filled with emotion when she remembered ME giving her a bottle! Being a mother through the miracle of adoption, there are times when I feel that I missed out on the “little things” during the first 9 months of her life. Then her magical personality reminds me that being a mom is about love!

Halle-Grace was so excited to present me with the special “flower” she made.

Her tiny hands and beautiful face, a gift I will forever cherish.

Another favorite memory of our morning together… Halle-Grace took her first photo of us together with my iPhone. You can see in her face her concentration and in my expression, “PLEASE do not drop my phone”. She’s adorable!

And finally, I HAD to include her thoughts about her daddy! Her preschool closes for the summer months so they had a “Donuts with Dad” morning as well. Funny, huh?!

She continues to sprinkle her magic everywhere she goes!

Until next post, remain blessed!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Autism Speaks Walk

My sorority, Sigma Kappa, co-hosted the Autism Speaks Walk at the University of Maryland with Alpha Phi Sorority and Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. My sorority alone raised in excess of $2,000 and all tolled, the event raised $20,000 for Autism research. Even though there was a threat of rain and eventually it did rain, we had a fantastic turnout!

In fact, this year, dollars raised and participants registered broke previous records! The Fear the Turtle 5K Run/3K Walk had 454 participants who raised a total of $23,374 and I am proud to say that donations are still coming in!

Johnny Holliday emceed the event and Maryland Basketball Coach Gary Williams served as the Grand Marshall, delivering an inspiring speech early in the morning before the race began! Congratulations to the top Male and Female Winners: Brian Tefft and Lauren Kestner! Here is the entire list of finishing times for the racers.

The money we raised will go to:

● Funding global research into the causes, treatments, and cure for autism
● Family services
● Raising awareness
● Advocacy efforts

I love helping to coordinate charitable events on campus. Last year, with the help of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, I coordinated and implemented a fundraiser for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation which is affiliated with my platform, the American Heart Association. We did a charity tug of war and had so much fun and all in all raised close to $500 for the cause.

If you would like to donate to Autism Speaks U, or start your own walk or race on your campus, contact:

Autism Speaks
Attn: Christina
1990 K Street NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20006

or go to:


Juliana McKee

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AHA Celebrity Golf Tournament

I was honored to be invited to be a part of the AHA Celebrity golf tournament! It was a beautiful day for the event held at the fabulous Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia. Although I am personally not a golfer, I enjoyed meeting every one and helping the AHA with their event.

Throughout the day, I spent time with the celebrities and sponsors. The American Heart Association has such a wide breath of support from the community and many of the local sporting teams as well as the local media.

I was so busy all day but love to be at events that highlight my platform. Every one I spoke to that day was touched by heart disease in one way or another-it was amazing to hear all of the stories.

I had the privilege to work with Mrs. Deanna Linz, Mrs. Northeast International. For such a young woman, she has been personally affected by heart disease. Not only did she lose both of her parents in their mid fifties, but she had a heart attack herself in January of 2010. When you look at her, she doesn’t fit the image of who you would think would be most affected by heart disease, but that is the point of these fundraisers. Heart disease can affect young and old, even young, fit beauty queens. It is important for everyone to know their numbers and to understand the warning signs of a stroke and heart attack. With this knowledge, we can reduce the toll of the number one killer today, heart disease.

Juliana McKee