You don’t find too many veterans in the ranks of pageant contestants. The newly crowned Mrs. New York, Patti Gomez-Michalkow, is one, though. The Army National Guard vet now works as a senior marketing manager and she’s so busy with her recent successes that she had to hit pause on her master’s degree at Harvard.
“I don’t sleep,” Gomez-Michalkow told The New York Post. She represented Syracuse in the Mrs. New York 2018 contest. Now she has the opportunity to take it to the national level..
“One of the things that was always imparted to me in the military was ‘Right place. Right time. Right uniform.’ So that’s the mentality I take into everything: Where do I have to be, what do I have to bring, and what do I have to do?”
Gomez-Michalkow spent four years with the NYSANG’s 42nd Infantry Division as a human intelligence collector.
“There’s no talent portion of the competition since we’re a Mrs. category, but we did talk about special talents. Mine is shooting 300-meter targets.”
While she was in the Guard, Gomez-Michalkow worked full-time as a senior marketing manager for M&D Financial.
If that wasn’t enough, Gomez-Michalkow also works with Homes for Our Troops, which builds houses disabled veterans. Her pageant work actually began as a way to help raise money for this charity.
“A female colleague at the charity suggested she get involved in the pageant to help raise funds for the cause,” The Post writes.
“And that’s when the light bulb really went off,” Gomez-Michalkow said. In some ways, basic training was easier because you weren’t being judged on stage in a swimsuit.”
Before the pageants and the volunteer work, she wanted to serve he country. The decision was made at an early age, when she was just 12, and saw the 9/11 attacks. “All you could see was black smoke in the distance. Everything was a bit eerie. I guess maybe I was freaking out a little bit, because a National Guard soldier came up to me and said, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK.’”
“For some reason, that really stuck with me,” she said. “I really do believe that had an impact on my decision to enlist, about a decade later.”