Military beauty turned pageant juggernaut Raquel Riley Thomas shares her story with hilary rocks
Photo credit: Tri Nguyen
Raquel Riley Thomas doesn’t believe in failure. In fact, she says that failure is simply not an option.
“Never quit and never make excuses. Simple.”
Not that I would have pegged Thomas for a quitter, considering she’s a decorated U.S. Army Ordnance officer, the former Mrs. Maryland America 2010-11 and 1st runner-up of Mrs. America 2010-11, and the current Executive Director of the Mrs. District of Columbia.
Thomas joined the US Army as a photojournalist at 17, and then received a full scholarship to Hampton University, where she participated in the ROTC program.
“I knew that going into the military would help me shape and define my own goals,” says Thomas, who was inspired by her mother, grandmother, and aunt, all of whom served in the military before becoming successful businesswomen.
After being honorably discharged in 2002, Thomas qualified for the Mrs. Maryland America pageant and secured the title in 2010. She then placed 1st Runner Up for the national crown that year, and was subsequently offered the opportunity to run the local Mrs. DC pageant office.
Pageantry gave Raquel the opportunity to become a role model for others. She remembered a time when her daughter, Maria, wondered why there weren’t any Disney princesses who looked like her.
“I became my daughter’s princess through the pageants,” she says.
Now Thomas seeks to spread positive pageantry through her relentless search for potential candidates. To find the next Mrs. DC America, she and her team scour the area for married, community and family-oriented women over 18 who live and work within a 25-mile radius of Washington, DC.
To Raquel, cons don’t exist in the pageant world; rather, she says that “pageantry is a place where women of all ages can build confidence in themselves, network in their communities, and bring awareness to their platforms while looking fabulous. Can’t beat that!”
For more information about the Mrs. DC America pageant, visit http://www.mrsdcamerica.org.