By Robert W. Mitchell

Congrats to Jude Maboné on being crowned Miss District of Columbia 2023. I met Jude on a number occasions while she volunteered with veterans here in DC. She is an inspiring personality with a passion for military veterans and their service to the nation, and it is wonderfully exciting and an honor to see her donning the coveted crown representing the Nation’s Capital! Jude, as the remarkable women she is, took some time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with me about her crown, her passion and advice for young people driven to succeed. Check out our conversation below.

What drove you to compete for the crown, and what has the journey been like for you?
I started competing for Miss DC (within the Miss America Opportunity) as a freshman in
college. It took me nine years and seven attempts to finally earn the crown and the year of
service that goes along with it. I didn’t grow up in pageantry, but I’d seen the movie “Miss
” so when I was diagnosed with heart disease, I decided that competing in a
pageant, specifically Miss America, would be something I’d add to my bucket list. I don’t know
that I ever expected to make it on to a pageant stage let alone the Miss America stage but I’m
glad that I took a risk and tried it because it has been one of the most transformative experiences
of my life. It was a long journey that was filled with personal growth and I’m certain that the
experience is a large part of why I am who I am today.

You’ve previously thrown your hat in the ring to be Miss DC. Now that you are, is it everything
you imagined?

Being Miss DC is better than I could have predicted, but it’s also a lot of work. In addition to
giving my all to the Miss DC role, I am working full time, applying to grad school, and am a
Management Leadership for Tomorrow Fellow. My greatest challenge so far has been balancing
all my responsibilities while still making time for myself. What I’ve loved most about this
experience so far is how much Miss DC means to so many people. To little kids she’s a princess,
to teens she’s an influencer and to older adults I’ve found she’s a source of nostalgia so a long
beloved American tradition. I love that this is a dynamic role and I strive to honor the legacy of
the women who came before me.

I see that you are a heart health and athlete safety advocate. Briefly, what is the “Check Your
Heart” initiative, and how can others get involved?

My community service initiative “Check Your Heart” stems from my own lived experience as a
six-time heart attack survivor and someone who is living with heart disease. My work is a three-
pronged approach to combatting heart disease that involves advocacy, awareness, and action.
I’ve been working with MedStar Health, Simon’s Heart and the American Heart Association on
a variety of projects that really focus on CPR and AED awareness. DC has one of the lowest
rates of bystander CPR in the country so the best way for others to join me in fighting heart
disease, our nation’s number one killer, is by learning how to do CPR and use an AED.
Additionally, to protect oneself it is critical that we take care of our bodies by living heart
healthy lifestyles and be preemptive in our health by getting our hearts screened with EKGs and

What advice would you give to others to encourage them to follow their dreams/passions?
My best advice is to bet on yourself. A mentor of mine is constantly saying “the world is run by
the people who show up” and that’s a mantra I’ve really come to live by. The only things that
you cannot do are the things that you never try so if you want to do something don’t waste too
much time planning, don’t count yourself out just dive in headfirst and see where it takes you.

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