Instead of a competition all about looks, Germain found a camaraderie of strong intelligent women, women who were studying to be doctors, young women like her who had ambitions beyond a glittering tiara.
That’s what hooked the 22-year-old University of New Mexico political science major.
“I found a home within pageantry,” Germain said. “It was the meaningful relationship with women.”
Germain will graduate in May and she’s already secured an internship with Emerge New Mexico, an organization that trains women to run for office.
“I’m big on girl power,” Germain said, over a cup of coffee at a Nob Hill cafe.
Germain landed the Miss New Mexico USA title in January and has her sights set on competing in the national level Miss USA pageant later this year. The Miss New Mexico USA and the Miss New Mexico Teen USA pageants are the official preliminaries to the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and the Miss Universe organization.
“I’m excited about this,” she said. “I want to bring the crown back to New Mexico. We’ve never had a winner from New Mexico.”
Germain is also possibly the first African-American to win the Miss New Mexico USA title. The 2003 title winner Alina Vission is part South African.
“But I’m not sure whether she claims being African-American,” said Germain.
Naomie’s parents, Marjorie and Ducarmel Germain, came to the U.S. from Haiti, met in New York and moved to Albuquerque where their three children were born. Naomie, the eldest, went to St. Pius X High School.
It was her mother who had the idea to enter her and younger sister Alexandra Germain in pageants.
“She always had us involved in things like art classes at the museum. I think she noticed a lull and wanted to get us active,” Germain said.
In 2015, the two sisters entered the Miss Albuquerque contest run by the Miss America organization, a different pageant system from Miss USA.
Alexandra Germain won the title. Naomie came in third, but the rivalry was friendly.
“I always felt if she won, I won,” Naomie Germain said. Alexandra decided not to go on competing.
Naomie went on to enter another contest in the Miss America system and won the Miss Rio Grande title, which qualified her to run in the state competition. At the Miss New Mexico America 2015 event she made it into the top 10. Based on that experience, she decided to aim for the Miss New Mexico USA 2016 title at a two-day competition held Jan. 23-24 in Las Cruces.
Contestants in all the USA pageant system competitions are judged in three areas. They are interviewed by a panel of judges who ask about their successes, talents, goals and ambitions. Attention is focused on each contestant’s poise, charm, self-confidence and ability to communicate, as well as the substance of her answers, said Laura Rayborn of Laura’s Productions.
The Miss New Mexico USA and the Miss New Mexico Teen USA pageants were independently conducted and produced by Laura’s Productions LLC.
Next, there is a swimsuit competition that focuses on the participants’ facial beauty, figure, physical fitness and confidence. Lastly, contestants appear before the judges in an evening gown of their choice.
The field of 20 competitors was winnowed down to 10 on the first day, and five on the second day. The top five had to answer a question on stage. Germain was asked what she would do to address New Mexico’s ranking as a state with widespread poverty. Her answer: invest in small businesses and promote the owners of those businesses.
“I was nervous,”Germain said. “But the biggest thing I learned was if you put your mind to it you’ll get what you need or want.”
Germain had to balance the demands of her school work with researching what she needed for the pageants and bargain hunting for the fancy outfits.
“I didn’t have any pageant coach. I put a full-length mirror at the end of the hall and practiced walking in front of it. I watched YouTube a lot too,” Germain said.
“If you want something bad enough, you find a way to make it work.”