Back in November, we sat down with Ruby B. Johnson as she was gearing up to compete for the title of Miss Nevada USA 2018, representing Elko. You can read her full feature here Ruby B. Johnson: Miss Nevada USA 2018 Contestant and Mining Engineer to hear about Ruby’s story, experiences, and heart for our community more in-depth. However, for today’s conversation, we’re simply going to catch up with her, after almost nine months, and find out how the pageant went, what’s next for her, and (because our stories are always growing every day) find out what she’s learned about herself and her town since we last chatted.
Ruby, it’s good to see you again! How did it go in Las Vegas, and how has life been for you since you’ve gotten back? “The pageant was really good; it was awesome to represent Elko. The article AAT did on me really helped with the publicity and inspired a lot of people to root for me; go, Elko! People were calling and reaching out to tell me they were proud and were rooting for me and they believed in me, people I had never met and may never meet. In those moments it felt like I already had won because I had my community supporting me, and that was so awesome. It made me wear the sash proudly when I was at Miss USA because I could remember the people I was representing; I stood tall on the stage knowing I had the word Elko around my chest. I didn’t win (Miss Nevada USA), but I had so much pride and joy knowing whom I was representing. I did my best to prepare both physically and mentally. Looking back there was nothing I could think of that I would change about the whole experience; they knew what they were looking for and they picked that. However, it was a lovely surprise when I won the Miss Photogenic award because it meant I got to bring something tangible back home; Elko won something!”
“After the competition, because news spreads fast in Elko, people began reaching out to me, asking me to come to be a speaker at their groups or events; it opened up many doors for me. It gave me an amazing platform to advocate what I love advocating for, which are girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mining (STEM). Teachers asked me to come to talk to their class; I got to talk with girls at Adobe Middle school, and at an event put on by Soroptimist. It’s been wonderful to be able to get out into the community, post-pageant.”
Well, congratulations Ruby, or should I say, Miss Photogenic Nevada! Thank you for representing us so well. What’s next for you in life? Are there any more beauty pageants in your future? “I would like to say I’m retired from pageants; however, that’s what I said two years ago, but there I was in January! I would like to trade my evening gown for a wedding gown now, but we’ll see; that’s up to God! Right now, I’ve just been focused on work and continuing my platform of reaching out to girls and women in STEM; I’m working on creating a media platform to feature and celebrate women who are in these fields, locally and globally. I want women to share their stories of what it’s like to work in STEM and how they came about their work. I’m looking at creating a magazine to highlight all these things, called STEMher By Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. I’m, putting this together right now, so I just hope the community will continue to support me and that I can remain accessible and approachable as I continue to give back to the community.”
That sounds very exciting and important; we wish you well with STEMher, Ruby! To conclude our follow up interview, can you share with us what you learned about yourself and our community through and after the pageant experience? “Pageantry is like sports; you have to put in the time and practice to succeed. For this last pageant, I learned so much about myself regarding fitness, health, and nutrition. I grew in the discipline of understanding my body type and what works for me, and I’ve continued that practice even after the pageant. I wanted to health and fitness to be a lifestyle and not just pageant prep, and I’m seeing the results of it. What did it show me about the community? It showed me how amazing Elko is! For people who didn’t even know me to believe in my dream was awesome. The moral and financial support I received from Elko made it feel like a family was behind me; this made me want to be my best self. Growing up African, we’re raised on the basis that “it takes a village.” However, being in Elko is really helping me learn what that means, what the word community actually means.”
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Continue to stay beautiful, Elko!