Derby Ozioma Chukwudi: Hoboken Resident + Miss USA 2021

Derby Ozioma Chukwudi born in Dallas, Texas, raised in Nigeria, and now a Hoboken resident, will be representing the country at the Miss Interglobal competition. Derby graduated from Berea College in Kentucky in 2019 where she studied Economics and Business. Post-college, Derby decided to pursue pageantry while maintaining her full-time job as a market strategist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. From competing in and winning Miss NJ USA to Miss Interglobal 2021, keep reading to learn more about Derby’s journey.

Hoboken Girl: How long have you lived in Hoboken and what brought you here?

Derby Ozioma Chukwudi: I moved to Hoboken after graduating in 2019 and college was in Kentucky so a total opposite spectrum for lifestyle. I interned in Summit, NJ, and Hoboken was the last city I visited before heading back to school – I didn’t think much about it then but when it was time to go apartment hunting – everything made sense! I viewed tons of places within NYC, Jersey City, and Newport. Something was missing and I found the complete feeling when I stepped into Hoboken.

HG: What was your journey into pageants?

DC: I have 2 local pageants between the ages of 16 and 17 but had no intention to continue – I did one for church and the other for the Black Student Union at my college – just for fun. After graduating, I challenged myself to stay in touch with the rest of the world outside of work and try new things. Pageants were one of my avenues for trying new things. When I decided to apply to Miss NJ USA (after initially applying Miss NY USA – story for another day), it was late because the competition had already taken place. The pandemic happened in 2020 and I barely remembered I had applied.

HG: Tell us about your previous experience in beauty pageants + where you placed.

DC: Miss NJ USA was my first major pageant experience and as you can imagine one of the most competitive in the country. I did not place in the semi-finals but I am super happy I stood up to the challenge. Although I didn’t place, I did go home with an award for the best interview – woah! Speaking is very important to me so to be recognized among a group of judges and contestants who didn’t really know me prior to the competition said a lot about how I had grown in my public speaking development. Competing at Miss NJ USA was amazing – I made the decision about 3 months to the competition but was determined to make the most of the short time. I don’t think I have participated in an activity that touches all aspects of my life. Prepping for pageants involve your mental, physical, spiritual, financial, and psychological aspect of your life. It was a lot of hard work as you can imagine combining the prep with working full time but I am so glad I said YES. The prep was transformational and the weekend went quickly but was full of unforgettable memories.

 HG: What is it like competing? Walk us through the experience.

DC: Competing is like a mental game – you win or lose in your head before you show up. For me, it was fun but also tasking – I grew a lot. To compete successfully, your character is tested – you have to be humble, a team player, have a genuine heart, and be optimistic. I prepared by reaching out for sponsorships, implemented a workout plan, practiced my walk severally with heels, spoke to other titleholders to hear their perspective, and definitely prayed through with friends and family. It was indeed an experience. After the contest, I was so thankful I chose to compete because this experience just made my entire life richer – I had more stories, met awesome ladies, and had a diverse experience.

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HG: What does it mean to you to be Miss Interglobal US 2021 and what did you feel when you were crowned the winner?

DC: To represent the country at the Miss Interglobal competition is an honor and an exciting opportunity. As a newer pageant, I believe the pioneer representative of a country sets the precedence and is a critical role so I am appreciative for the opportunity and looking forward to seeing what experience we are able to create with the organization and personally, as the titleholder. After Miss NJ USA, I knew I was not done with my work in the pageant world, and having this title is a continuation of my impact in the community where I focus on financial education.

HG: Tell us about your upcoming pageant for the international title of Miss Interglobal.

DC: Miss Interglobal will be a virtual international competition that brings ~40 different countries to compete for the crown. The pageant focuses on cultural awareness, tourism, and beauty. Like any other international pageant competition, there are several segments of the competition – swimsuit, evening gown, creative headshot, national costume, press presentation, and advocacy talks. The contest requires contestants to provide several videos and pictures of each segment of the competition. In addition, there will be live sessions for the different aspects of the contest. The contest officially kicks off early Nov and the crowning ceremony should be on December 4th. 

HG: What are you doing to prepare locally?

DC: To prepare locally, I’ve been visiting businesses to share the mission of Miss Interglobal and invite them for an opportunity to join the journey as official sponsors. Jane Do, one of my official sponsors, will be offering some workout classes as I physically prepare for the contest. I am also working closely working with the Director of Miss Interglobal US – Mayelin De La Cruz who is actively involving the entire village to be a part of this successful journey. Everyone on the team is local to New Jersey and excited to make this contest a success.

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HG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?

DC: If I could list them all, pages won’t be sufficient. To be succinct, I’d say family, friends, and future generations – in my opinion, these three groups represent the past, present, and future of my life and they all propel me to be my best self every day. I love Hoboken and it is incredible to see how many locals are always innovating and trying to do new things. There is so much talent in this community and I am thankful that I get to be a part of the Hoboken community. My pageant platform is focused on promoting financial education. This is so critical for overall welfare but there is a knowledge/information gap that exists among young adults. Everyone needs money and works with money but not many people have a healthy relationship with money. With my platform in pageantry, my core focus is to help people reframe their narrative about money and get them to have a healthier relationship. I’ll achieve this by having money conversations and focusing on money mindsets people have and ways they can adapt them.

Local Fun

HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?

DC: Tough question! I love Del Frisco’s.

HG: What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?

DC: I’ll pass – all of the boutiques are really cool

HG: What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?

DC: Believe it or not, just spending time by the riverfront and being in a calm state of mind among other fun things!

HG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?

DC: I usually show friends around Hoboken – Washington street is always a fav for many. We also go to several restaurants to try different foods 🙂

HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?

DC: Well, we need live concerts! But I won’t mind an Auntie Anne’s shop somewhere in Hoboken

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Written by:

Katherine is a recent Montclair State grad who has a passion to explore the world. Apart from her family and dogs, she loves traveling the most. She has fallen head over heels with experiencing the world, trying new foods, learning about new cultures, and getting out of her comfort zone. She's been to 16 countries and counting. In her spare time you'll find her listening to music or daydreaming about a new adventure.