When one door closed for Jamila Mustafa, another opened a week later, immediately lifting her spirits.
On Saturday, following a loss in the Miss Hockessin America Scholarship Pageant on Feb. 2, Mustafa bounced back and was crowned Miss Middletown 2013 at the Delaware City Community Civic. Her platform is ending juvenile diabetes.
Mustafa, 20, of Wilmington, earned a grand prize that included a $300 scholarship, photo shoot with photographer Kylene Cleaver (whose studio is located in Philadelphia, Pa.) and coaching from pageant coach Sheri Jenkins, of Chester County, Pa. She also earned a gift certificate and gift basket valued at $100, as well as an invitation to compete in the Miss Delaware 2013 pageant on June 27 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
Mustafa — a dancing machine, who performed to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" — is a sophomore studying mass communications, with a concentration in TV, radio and film at Delaware State University.
Q Now that you've won the Miss Middletown pageant, a week after you thought you were going to win the Miss Hockessin contest, does this victory taste sweeter?
A I definitely think the victory is sweeter. My first pageant was with Essence and I won the state then USA title [to be crowned Miss Teen Essence 2011]. I hadn't really experienced losing in a pageant and the first pageant I did [lose in] was the Miss Dover 2013 pageant, in which I was first runner-up. Since Miss Hockessin was my third pageant, I assumed I was going to take the crown. But not placing in the pageant was a downer. To be honest, I wasn't even going to compete in the Miss Middletown pageant until the last minute. I was going to call in and say, "I'm not ready, I can't do this." But they kept pushing me and told me to stay focus.
Q What was different about competing in the Miss Middletown pageant, compared to Miss Hockessin?
A I thought I did better in the Miss Hockessin pageant. I thought I was prepared. I thought my dancing was excellent, and I thought I looked okay in my swimsuit. I noticed this weird, awkward thing I was doing with my arm, but I didn't think it would cause me to lose. I thought I did great during my interview. But for the Miss Middletown pageant, I didn't feel confident. I felt like I messed up on my talent, yet I ended up winning "best talent." And there was such stiff competition this time. This competition was a notch up from the Miss Hockessin pageant and I wasn't sure what to expect. Not only did I win, but I was also named "miss congeniality," in which your peers vote for who they think is the most likeable and has the best spirit; and I know my spirits were kind of down. But I didn't know they were going to pick me.
Page 2 of 2 - Q How did you celebrate winning the Miss Middletown pageant?
A I ate [laughs]. I know it sounds horrible, and I've been trying to go on a diet, but I ate a whole slab of ribs [laughs].
Q Why did you select ending juvenile diabetes as your platform?
A For one, my grandmother had diabetes. Also, it's common in African American women.
Q What are your plans to bring awareness to your platform?
A First and foremost, I want to host statewide functions like bowling events and skating parties. If you can relate something fun to something serious, I think it'll make people feel less afraid. I also want to find local and national celebrities to be an ambassador for my cause, and I think that would bring awareness to my platform.
Q When would you like to get started on this?
A I want to get started on this immediately.
Q How will you prepare for the Miss Delaware pageant?
A I'm going to learn more about the system, and get more involved with the Children's Miracle Network. I'll be going to the gym, working on some cardio and I'm going to change up my diet.