Just for a second, imagine your grandmother. If doilies, potpourri, and cheek-pinching come to mind, it might be time for Flower Mound’s Joyce Brown to give you a new perspective of the modern nana. Brown is a 63-year-old pageant winner, former electrical engineering supervisor, marathoner, certified health coach, co-author, and all-around inspiration to women of all ages. As you can probably tell, she loves defying expectations.
“I’ve always enjoyed a challenge,” she said. “I look at something and say, ‘How am I going to figure this out?’”
One of the initial challenges in Brown’s life came when she entered Alabama A&M University as the first person from her blue-collar family to attend college.
“I didn’t have a mentor for many, many years,” she said. “I was the only girl in my classes in school and then the only female in my organization for a long time. I didn’t want to appear weak, so I just decided I was going to create my own path.”
Thus began Brown’s lifelong dedication to vanquishing any obstacle that dared keep her from her goal.
“All of those moments were exciting challenges,” she said. “I looked at them more as something to be conquered.”
As Brown’s 35-plus years as an electrical engineering supervisor wound down, she realized she was approaching retirement without many hobbies or activities to fill her free time.
“I wanted to find myself after retirement,” she said. “At 59, I looked at myself, and I didn’t like what I saw. I decided I was going to get control of my life and my weight.”
And when Joyce Brown decides she’s going to do something, you’d better believe it gets done.
“I became a certified health coach because it was something I was always interested in,” she said. “I started going to boot camp classes and quit yo-yo dieting. I lost 30 pounds in four months.”
Because recommitting herself to a healthy lifestyle with five to six boot camp classes each week just wasn’t difficult enough, Brown also decided that she was going to try something she had never done before - pageants.
“I just went online looking for something to challenge myself,” she said. “I thought, ‘What about pageants?’ I had never been in one, and I didn’t know they existed for women my age.”
In 2018, Brown competed in the Ms. Texas Senior pageant for the first time. Shockingly, even after spending countless hours on her routines, she wasn’t able to nab a title. Luckily, that didn’t deter her from entering the pageant a second time in 2019.
“The first year, I didn’t win. But I grew so much,” she said. “I’ve never been outgoing, and I didn’t know my talent. But it was such an awesome experience because of my personal growth.”
After changing her talent routine to a jazz number and dazzling in an incredible floor-length gown, Brown knew the effort she spent preparing for the pageant was well worth it.
“The second time around, I stood up on stage thinking I hadn’t won again — I hadn’t placed again,” she said. “I was so frustrated because I spent so much time on the pageant. It was later on that I learned that I had actually won.”
Brown has used her title as Ms. Texas Senior 2019 to inspire other women and effectively become the mentor she never had.
“I always try to inspire others to be their best,” she said. “God has given all of us talents and gifts. It’s up to us to nurture those gifts and talents.”
So what’s next for Brown? Well, she’s not sure. What she is sure of - no matter what she’s called to do - is that she comes first.
“I leave that open because I think God has something bigger planned for me,” she said. “I’m just going to keep saying ‘yes’ to Joyce.”
To any other women entering their “Age of Elegance,” Joyce has this message:
“This is our time,” she said. “We’ve raised our kids and worked our careers. This is our time to figure out who we are and to flourish.”
photos courtesy of Joyce Brown