From boots to heels: meet the GI vying for Mrs. America

From boots to heels: meet the GI vying for Mrs. America
Courtesy of Laura Marino

She may be an army veteran, but Patti Gomez-Michalkow’s shot to become Mrs. America is a first.

Having already earned the crown of Mrs. New York and the rank of specialist, her journey from military to mascara is a unique one to say the least.

Patti lived all around New York City growing up, having her first ‘own spot’ in Pelham Bay while in her 20s.

She took interest in joining the service at a very young age.

While she was fascinated with the Navy growing up, the Army ultimately caught her attention after college.

As a human intelligence specialist, better known as ’35 Mike’ it was Patti’s job to get the bad guys to talk.

Nowadays, the soon to be 29-year-old gets people to do a different, less hostile kind of talking.

Patti works as a senior marketing manager for M&D Financial in Syracuse, NY.

In transition from service to civilian work, Patti saw for the first time what it meant to be appreciated as a veteran.

“I never dealt with veterans growing up. Then after I served everything changed,” said Patti. “People that I knew my entire life told me that they served too, I realized what a big and amazing community of veterans is out there,” she added.

Soon after Patti became involved with numerous organizations that raise money for vets, her inspiration to enter the pageant developed.

“When the idea of joining was first suggested to me I laughed, but then I realized the money could be raised to help veterans. That’s what pushed me into it,” said Patti.

So once again, Patti began training, but a much different kind, though.

“The military focuses on strength and endurance. Meanwhile the pageant is all about aesthetics, it took some adjusting,” said Patti.

Throughout her life, Patti had always seen herself as an underdog; being thought of as too ‘girly’ for the military life only to then be viewed as too tough for a beauty pageant contestant.

Nevertheless, she’s the one that was crowned Mrs. New York. To the disappointment of many, this Mrs. New York has a Mr. too.

“My husband Nicolas is more excited than I am with all of this,” said Patti. “He even keeps a steamer in his car just incase I ever need it,” she added.

While the happy couple do not have children, they do have a pair of dogs, Rocket and Scout.

As a connoisseur of the world’s finest pizzas, Patti proudly proclaims that the pizza pies made on Crosby Avenue at Louie & Ernie’s, are her personal favorites.

Adding that the half an hour walk there was ‘always worth it.’

As far as getting along with the other Mrs. America contestants, Patti is simply happy to now have a friend in every state across America.

She’s also made it her mission to show the empowerment that both women and veterans should carry themselves with day in and day out.

Patti’s chance for the Mrs. America title will come this August in Las Vegas.

If she is to win the crown, her first move would be to start penning thank you’s to everyone who has supported her journey.

When that’s squared away, she might pop some champagne.