Monday, January 31, 2011

Magazine Cover

A Sneak Peek….Mrs. International, Shannon Devine will grace the cover BEST EVER YOU Magazine, February 2011


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Save the Date! The National Council For Adoption Conference is back!

July 6-8, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Every year at the National Council For Adoption (NCFA) annual conference, leaders in the field of adoption learn what is happening at the forefront of adoption policy and practice and how they can play an active role in improving and safe-guarding adoption. This year, we are adding educational tracks that provide prospective adoptive parents the unique opportunity to learn about the latest research on various topics surrounding adoption, as well as resources available to them pre- and post-adoption.

NCFA is committed to producing professional, educational conferences of the highest caliber!

Adoption professionals and prospective adoptive parents (PAP) are invited to join us for a 3-day learning experience that promotes best practices and sound policies in adoption and educates attendees on pertinent adoption-related research in the areas of domestic, inter country, and adoption out of foster care.

Here's a tentative list of topics you can expect to learn more about during the conference:

* Adoption Agency Management
* Birthparent Support
* Domestic Adoption
* Domestic Adoption Programs in Foreign Countries
* Foster Care
* Humanitarian Aid Collaboration
* Parenting children with Special Needs
* Post-Adoption Services
* Public vs. Private Adoption
* Risk Management

Here's an sneak peek to the list of topics that caught my attention immediately:

* Adoption Ethics
* Adoptive & Foster Parent Support
* Advocacy and Public Policy
* Intercountry Adoption
* Legislative Issues Impacting Adoption
* Hague Convention
* Race, Culture, and Diversity in Adoption


I don't want you to miss this opportunity. Visit for more information.

Make plans TODAY to Build your family through the Miracle of Adoption!

Until next post, remain blessed!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Heart Month and Ross Dress for Less

This past weekend launched national retailer, Ross Dress for Less’s fundraising campaign for the American Heart Association in honor of heart month, which begins on February first. Both Miss Teen China International, Lauren, and I volunteered at the event in the store’s Rockville, Maryland location. Lauren and I have the same platform, the American Heart Association’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, so this is the second time we have volunteered together at an AHA event. Today, we gave out flyers with vital information including heart attack warning signs, reminded shoppers that February is “heart month”, and collected donations for the American Heart Association.

I was so impressed by the generosity of those who appeared to have very little, but dug down deeply into their wallets to support the AHA. Some could only donate a quarter or a dollar, but they were willing to help. For a donation of one, five or ten dollars, they were able to fill out a heart sticker with their name and the saying “I lent a hand to fight heart disease and stroke”, which we posted on a wall in the store for all to see.

The store manager acted as an emcee for the event, announcing to shoppers, “The next shopper that donates $7.00 will receive a $10.00 gift card to The Silver Diner!” There was a great deal of excitement in the store. This event will run through the duration of February, which is Heart Month. Last year, Ross raised $2.5 million for the American Heart Association! I hope to be able to return and help out some more, especially since I discovered the deals in their shoe isles. As a self-confessed shoe-aholic, I LOVE shoe shopping and am always in search of the perfect pair at the perfect price, and I’ll admit found a couple of those “perfect pairs” that day, including a new pair of red pumps which will be absolutely perfect for “go red day” on February 4th!

Well, until next time, keep your hearts healthy!

Juliana McKee

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dream Allstars' Destiny Special Needs Squad


Last weekend, I had the honor of appearing at the Maryland State Championships, a large cheerleading event held in Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout middle school and high school, I was a cheerleader. In middle school and through my first couple of years of high school, I was a member of Dream Allstars, a competitive cheerleading organization that travels throughout the country to compete.

In 9th grade, I also tried out and earned a spot on my high school’s Varsity cheer squad. It was quite an honor to receive a school Varsity letter my freshman year! I continued to do both until 11th grade, when I decided to only cheer for my high school squad due to the demands of a more difficult course-load, helping lead my school’s Key Club, and applying to colleges.

Cheerleading is a wonderful sport for children with special needs. They all have an integral role in the routine and a part of something greater than themselves. There were three special needs squads competing in this venue. When Dream Allstars’ special needs squad, Destiny competed, there was a problem with their music and it didn’t play.

The athletes are taught their routine to 8-counts, like dancers, so when the music failed to play, their coaches and helpers started counting and clapping out 8-counts for Destiny to perform their routine along to. The entire audience rose to their feet clapping and counting to the 8-counts, almost like it was a standing ovation as Destiny performed. It was truly inspiring!!

The little athletes love to try on the Teen International crown. They light up as they revel in their hopes and dreams of one day becoming teen queens themselves!

Juliana McKee

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meet Mrs. International this Saturday!

Meet Mrs. International, Shannon Devine this Saturday at the North Carolina/South Carolina International Pageants Workshop

Workshop Information:

Please join us this Saturday…10am, Embassy Suites, Charlotte, NC

The workshop will kick off with vendors selling jewelry, handbags, wardrobe and more! Come and shop and have some fun at our OPEN EXPO! ALL ladies interested in pageantry are welcome! There will be amazing deals, so please come and bring a friend!

Meet Shannon Devine, Mrs. International 2010 and your North and South Carolina International State 2010 Titleholders and staff members of Carolina International Pageant.

*Learn about the International Pageant System from the national level
*Hear about the State Pageant
*Q and A Session with the titleholders

**This session is open to ALL ladies interested in learning more about the system and our current contestants. You are not required to be a contestant at this session, you are welcome to come, meet, and learn more about this system at this time! No pre-registration necessary

YOU WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ENTER AT THE DOOR… Come and enjoy a meet and greet with no preregistration necessary! If you decide you would like to enter you will have the opportunity before we begin our guest presentations!

*Expo Continues for SHOPPING!

*New contestants and pre-registered contestants can enter or pay in full at this time.
*All new contestants will receive a contestant CD with all paperwork needed to enter.
*Cash, checks, and credit cards accepted at the door for entry.

*Expo continues until 2pm
*Workshop is closed to registered contestants at this time.
*Fashion Show Presentation
*Opening number wardrobe presented by official choreographer
*Makeup Seminar by Dana L Cosmetics
*Stage and Interview Coaching
*Walking and Presentation
*Directors Notes

WORKSHOP location:
Embassy Suites Charlotte
4800 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC United States 28217

I’m excited to meet you all in person on Saturday!

Shannon Devine

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

18th Annual NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo

This past weekend was the 18TH annual NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo at the Washington Convention Center in our nation’s capital. I was honored to be asked to help work the American Heart Association booth at the health expo for my second consecutive year.

I also got to meet Lauren Celine, Miss Teen China International 2011, who has her platform, the American Heart Association’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in common with me, also joined me in volunteering to work the AHA booth, along with Miss Teen DC International 2010, Alexis Harvey.

The expo was held from 9am-5pm on both Saturday and Sunday and kicked off the largest free consumer health event. As the event began to wind down, we had a chance to visit some of the other booths, though with close to 200 exhibitors present, we definitely did not get to see them all. There were samples of health foods like some oatmeal raisin protein bars which I had a chance to try; they were like guilt-free oatmeal cookies! We saw martial arts demonstrations, got to try “healthy energy drinks”, got free 5 hour energy samples to take home with us, learned about the cancer screenings that had been offered there that day, and so much more!

One of the main goals of the event was to provide the numerous people who do not have health insurance and cannot afford to see a doctor regularly with check-ups, screenings, and information for health conditions and factors such as cancer, BMI, blood pressure, bone density, cholesterol, and much more, as well as the opportunity to speak with health professionals and ask them questions that might have gone unanswered otherwise. With over 87,000 attendees in two days, I would say that it was a huge success!

Lauren, Alexis, and I worked outside the AHA booth, asking passersby if they would like more information about our nation’s #1 killer, heart disease, and getting them to volunteer their contact info for a chance to spin the “prize wheel” and take home prizes including heart healthy recipe books, AHA tote bags, luggage tags, pill boxes, and more! I had a great time getting to know Lauren and catching up with Alexis, as well as really spreading the word about heart disease and the importance of living a heart-healthy life.

Many of the people who I spoke to did not understand that heart disease is not just grabbing your heart, saying “I think I’m having a heart attack”, and taking a Bayer aspirin. I explained that heart disease is a broad, umbrella term that describes any and all abnormalities or conditions related to the cardiovascular system, not just the heart. I had a great time and felt fulfillment from utilizing my chance to make a difference as Miss Teen International, I hope that my words helped at least one person who I met there choose to make healthy changes in their life!

Juliana McKee

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Mystery of Risk

“Risk is not destiny.” – Dr. Ira Chasnoff

Medical Risk Assessment and Intervention Techniques for Internationally Adopted Children- A Webinar for Parents and Adoption Professionals.

The title probably sounds a bit intimidating/overwhelming (?) however, I cannot stress the importance of being educated on every aspect of the adoption journey.

I receive many inquiries weekly from prospective adoptive parent(s). I love that you feel comfortable enough to share the joy of your journey, and even your struggles! When we work together, we can move mountains! There were many, MANY times along the journey to Halle-Grace I questioned/screamed, "WHY is this happening? I just want to give this little girl the best life I possibly can! WHY?" The answer is now so crystal clear! God was preparing me to HELP others! The webinar below will be an incredible resource and opportunity to hear from experts in the field of adoption!

As Mrs International, an adoption advocate, a mother blessed through the miracle of adoption, and a National Spokesperson for the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), I am so thrilled to share this opportunity with you, our loyal readers.

NCFA is pleased to announce a 2.5 credit hour webinar, The Mystery of Risk, designed for adoption professionals and parents considering domestic, foster care, and inter country adoption.

- Understand how to assess risk at the time of your referral of a child.
- Learn to recognize behavioral difficulties and intervention strategies.
- Gain insight into diagnoses and suggestions on appropriate pre- and post-adoption services.
- Understand the importance of birth history and signs of distress.
- Hear real life case studies.
- Hague-compliant training.
- Receive 2.5 CEU hours from the National Council For Adoption, fully accredited by The Catholic University of America, School of Social Work.
- Interactive polling with real-time results and plenty of time for questions and answers!

When: Wednesday, February 2nd...1:30-4:00pm, Eastern Standard Time (12:30-3:00pm Central Standard Time, 11:30-2:00pm Mountain Time, 10:30-1:00pm Pacific Coast Time)

About the Lead Presenter:

Dr. Ira Chasnoff, MD is the President of Children's Research Triangle, a not-for-profit organization that works with high-risk children and their families. He is one of the nation's leading researchers in the field of child development and the effects of alcohol and drug use on the newborn infant and child. He is the author of eight critically acclaimed books that explore how biological and environmental factors impact the development of substance-exposed children. In 2002, Dr. Chasnoff's organization was selected by the Center for Disease Control as one of the five national centers for research into innovative treatment for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. “I think there is a need for helping parents and adoption professionals understand normal child behavior as well as how and when to know when behavior moves beyond what is perceived as “normal” and how to manage behavioral difficulties." - Dr. Chasnoff

The webinar will be moderated by Chuck Johnson, President and CEO, National Council For Adoption. “The importance of understanding behavioral patterns in children who might have been prenatally exposed to drugs as well as intervention techniques that can help children and families thrive in their new environments is critical. In our opinion, Dr. Chasnoff is one of the leading experts in this field of medicine as well an advocate of adoption.” - Chuck Johnson

Registration is now open!

For more information, please e-mail

Until next post, remain blessed & don't forget to WEAR RED next Friday!

Shannon Devine

Monday, January 24, 2011

Elizabeth St John

I recently attended an event for another area titleholder.  She showed us her fabulous gown, which was custom designed and made for her by a local designer. The low-back of the gown was very dramatic, while the conservative front kept the gown elegant and the oversized sequins, or “palettes”, which completely covered it, ensured that it would catch every light.

I had the pleasure of meeting the designer of the gown, Elizabeth St John, a fellow “Terp”! She explained that she specializes in “eco-couture”, meaning that all of the gowns and dresses that she designs and makes are completely made of materials that are sustainable from natural fibers ranging from hand woven silks and sustainable cottons, to PET satin taffeta linings made from recycled plastic bottles. She carefully selects only fabric manufacturers that employ fair-trade labor and uses vegetable dyes for her colored and imported fabrics and embellishments. To ensure that her manufacturing and design is focused on achieving a "ZERO waste" factor, she refashions cuttings and remnants into hand-worked flowers and accents.

All Elizabeth St John dresses are hand cut & hand finished employing local labor, not robots or over-seas sweatshops. Her office & manufacturing spaces extend the "ZERO waste" philosophy as well, minimizing the use of paper by not offering printed catalogues. She hopes to be completely "off-the grid" by the end of 2012, using only solar and wind power for her offices and dress manufacturing.

Her motto is “Refined. Glamorous. Green.” Which she explains in a quote on her website: "I want my collection to be clothes that women will want to wear and know that they're manufactured in a way that is less harmful to the planet should follow as an added bonus. Green should extend beyond the idea of simply recycling or refashioning a garment into something new...all aspects of its creation should be considered. Finally, the cut, fit and construction should all contribute to clothes that are comfortable and timeless - while focusing on beautifying and complimenting their owners.”

Speaking to Elizabeth was truly inspirational because it was clear that she not only pursued her dream of designing and manufacturing dresses, but she combined it with her passion for the environment and continues to work to make a difference, one gown at a time. With passion and drive as strong as Elizabeth’s, I am sure we will be hearing more about her, who knows, maybe we’ll see her competing on the Mrs. International stage one day, in one of her very own “green” gowns, of course!

Juliana McKee

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Choosing Your Evening Gown

The most glamorous part about competing for Miss International is the evening gown competition! I just loved my evening gown last year, but it took a lot of time searching for one that I thought was perfect for me. There are a few key points to keep in mind when you’re searching for the perfect evening gown.

First of all, the judges are not (and I repeat NOT) looking for the most expensive gown. It really is all about how you wear it. You must feel confident, look elegant, & it must fit your body well.

Second, you should be the one to choose your dress. Of course getting another person’s opinion can be helpful, but above all you need to love your dress & want to wear it! If you have a hesitation about the dress, it will definitely come out before you walk out on that stage, and when you are modeling you don’t want that weighing on your mind. All you want to be thinking about is how beautiful you feel!

Third, don’t get caught up in the “winners wear white” mentality. Yes, white is flattering on many girls & shows up great on stage, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear a color & still become Miss International! I love white gowns, but for this pageant I found a fabulous gold dress that I felt wonderful in, & ended up tying Miss Oklahoma for the evening gown award! Other colors are great too – as long as you feel beautiful in it, that will translate to the audience.

Fourth, be age appropriate! If you are a teen, be aware that the judges are looking for a girl to represent other teens, so you do not want to look like you’re 25! Further, if you are 25, make sure your gown is classy & not too revealing. That means no slits that are super high & no really deep V’s in the front. If you find a dress & are wondering “is this slit too high?,” my rule of thumb is: if you wouldn’t want your dad to see you in the dress, don’t buy it!

So, ladies don’t forget that the trunk shows at The Competitive Image are March 24-26 & April 28-30! They have gorgeous dresses & lots of them! At the trunk shows in April, Sherri Hill will be there, & I’ve heard she is just fabulous!! Book your appointment today, & I will see you there!

Ashley Smith

Friday, January 21, 2011

National Wear Red Day

Don’t forget National Wear Red Day is Friday, February 4th! Not only should all of you wear red, but you need to know WHY you are doing so. Heart disease is the #1 threat to women. Having one day set aside where everyone wears red, we will try to raise awareness of heart disease & educate those around us.

The National Heart Lung & Blood Institute has some great ideas on their website of how to promote National Wear Red Day in your community! The one I have chosen to take on is speaking to local businesses around me & asking them to post Go Red posters in their stores & to give discounts to all those wearing RED on February 4th! Such a wonderful idea & great way to get everyone involved – who doesn’t love a discount?!

For more ideas, visit their website here:

Ashley Smith

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Princess Closet

Next month, I will have the pleasure of attending an event put on by Princess Closet in Chicago, Illinois. Princess Closet is an organization that International Pageants works with to help “make prom a reality” for girls from disadvantaged households.

The Princess Closet collects donated dresses & accessories so that the girls may come & shop for that perfect look at no cost to them! I remember my prom in high school & that ever important Prom Dress, & I am so happy to be able to be a part of their mission.

Miss International State Winners will have the opportunity to donate a dress (or two!) at orientation during their week in Chicago before competing for the title of Miss International. I hope you will all remember to donate! I know the girls will really appreciate it!

Ashley Smith

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Staying Motivated

Hey ladies! I hope everyone is sticking to their New Year’s resolutions!! One of mine was to keep a steady work out routine, which is proving to be a little harder than it was when I had a trainer!

Usually I like to change up my workouts so I don’t get bored, but I’ve found a song that I just can’t stop listening to while I’m running! Cee Lo’s “Forget You!” I first heard it on Glee, & I just can’t stop listening to it. I literally dance on the treadmill!

Ashley Smith

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old Friends

When I was in Texas over Christmas break I was able to attend a pageant in San Antonio with Miss Teen Texas International, Sydney Datcher. The road trip there was 5 hours & so much fun! The best part about going to this pageant though was that I knew so many of the girls competing.

One woman in particular I met when I started doing pageants with when I was just 8 years old! I hadn’t seen her in at least 15 years, but it was a great reminder that when we compete in pageants we make life-long friends!

I also got to meet up with a former Miss Georgia International, Lauren Arnold.

 The emcee of the pageant was the fabulous former Mrs. International, Laine Berry. I got the chance to meet her finally, & she was just as nice & complimentary as I had heard from everyone. She is just another example of how fabulous the International ladies are!

Ashley Smith