FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The competition in the Mrs. Black North Carolina pageant was stiff, but according to Tiara Joseph, being a Soldier meant standing strong in the face of adversity and having the faith and confidence to know that success would come through perseverance.

It was that faith and strong support from her Family that helped her earn the title of Mrs. Black North Carolina during a pageant held in Raleigh, March 24. Joseph, who is a second lieutenant assigned to the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, said competing in a beauty pageant is something she never really thought about when she was younger, but it was the encouragement of a friend that led her to enter her first competition -- The Mrs. Black Fayetteville pageant.

Winning that competition, served as a qualifier for the Raleigh, N.C. pageant.

"This was my very first one," Joseph said of the Fayetteville pageant. "Growing up, every girl wants to be a model or some kind of beauty queen. I never though it would be me, especially after joining the Army. I thought that life was in the past and I put the whole modeling thing behind me.

"But recently, after returning from Iraq, someone came to me and said, 'you would be a great spokesperson for this black pageant that we know about and they asked what would your platform be?' I said, 'something for the Soldiers,' and they said it would perfect, not only for a strong female, but also a black female, who could truly help the community and the Soldiers," Joseph explained.

After researching the event, Joseph was almost the victim of her own demise, as second-guessing led her to procrastinate in getting her packet started. She said she even confided in a friend who had pageant experience and got the confirmation that she needed, but was still unsure about one of the pre-requisites of the competition -- community service.

"I read the application and it said community service. I said, 'I haven't done any and I wouldn't want to take that slot from one of the other girls who was trying to compete. I though about it and finally, I e-mailed the director, explaining that I hadn't done any community service and he said my time in the Army counts as community service. So I put my packet in."
And the rest, as the say, is history.

Joseph said the competition consisted of several categories: the opening act, which was not judged; the interview, which was judged; casual wear and the evening gown events, which came after the talent showcase.

For her talent showcase, Joseph read a monologue, which focused on her life as a black mother, wife and Soldier.

Joseph, whose path to the North Carolina pageant began when she was crown as Mrs. Black Fayetteville, explained that her platform is an organization called Help for the Heroes. She said the decision as to which platform she wanted to focus on was easy for her.

"Anything to do with the Soldiers," said the 31 year-old Beaumont, Texas native. "Because I want to try and get help for Soldiers, I focused on Purple Heart Homes, a veteran owned and operated, non-profit that helps disabled veteran by bringing their homes up to standard to where they are more accessible to them. Or, they build them from scratch, depending on the situation."

Joseph enlisted into the Army in 1999 and after training, she was sent to Fort Bragg to be a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. She has remained on active duty, earning an associate's degree, before being stationed in Korea for four years. She earned the rank of sergeant first class, before participating in the ROTC program and graduating with a four-year degree. Being enlisted and now serving as a commissioned officer is a big change, Joseph said.

"It's very different because I was used to being a worker bee and even though I made it to the rank of sergeant first class, I still liked to get my hands dirty," she explained. "Now, it's more managing, supervising and planning, lots of planning and lots of meetings. Now I'm in meetings all day so the work gets done when I can squeeze it in."

As Mrs. Black North Carolina, Joseph said she has an obligation to attend different events and to be a spokesperson for Help for the Heroes, Purple Heart Homes and the Miss Black North Carolina Pageant.

Joseph, who is married to Master Sgt. Rowan Joseph, said she always received a vote of confidence from her Family, which also includes their three children, Kameron, 6; Jadon, 5, and one-year-old Anaya.

"My husband is my biggest supporter. He supports me so much and, along with the kids, it's like I have my own cheering squad," she said.

Rowan is currently attending the Sergeants Major's Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and according to Tiara, he's taking on the role of "Mr. Mom," which allows her to concentrate on her job and the pageant. She said she looks forward to her Family's return in June.

Joseph said she has not thought about competing in other pageants, as she currently wants to focus on her obligation as the 2012 Mrs. Black North Carolina.

"Right now, I just want to focus on the platforms, helping as many people as I can. Not just for the Soldiers though, because I'm also getting involved with homeless shelters here and the Hope Center. Anyway I can help the community, that's what I'm trying to do," she said.

Those who want to support Help for the Heroes can log in to purplehearthomes.org and find out more information on donating or volunteering.

"We are looking for veterans within the Fayetteville area who are looking for assistance from these agencies," Joseph said.

Page last updated Fri April 27th, 2012 at 15:58