In 1963, an attractive, blue-eyed, blond 18-year-old Georgetown undergraduate named Michele Metrinko was named Miss D.C., went on to win the Miss USA contest, and two months later represented her country in the Miss World pageant.
For the Metrinko family in 1963, beauty crowns were becoming routine. Michele also won the Miss New York City (her home town) title for another major contest. Her older sister Marcia, a Georgetown graduate who had been selected that year as Miss Maryland, won the Miss New York City title for the Miss America pageant.
But these sister beauty queens were not stereotypical "dumb blonds." In fact, while Michele was circling the globe as Miss USA, she continued her studies at Georgetown and graduated with a bachelor of science in foreign service. In a nine-year span, she went on to earn a master's degree in tax law from Georgetown Law School. Sister Marcia also earned a master's degree in finance from the New York Institute of Finance. She is now the advertising director for American Airlines' in-flight magazine. A third Metrinko sister, Monika, who won a Miss D.C. title in 1971, presently is completing a doctorate in Russian-area studies at Georgetown, after working for the Agriculture Department for several years.
After leaving the beauty pageant circuit, Michele worked as an attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission, prosecuted tax cases for the Justice Department, was a special assistant to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Ruckelshaus during the Nixon administration, and worked in the Ford administration as the Interior Department's associate solicitor for conservation and wildlife.
In 1976, Michele became associate counsel and corporate secretary for the Sun Co. Inc. She is now married to John Rollins, the chairman and chief executive officer of RLC Corp., of Wilmington, Del., and she heads Rollins Jamaica, a separate company of hotels and condominium investments. She is also the mother of three children, and takes them with her on corporate trips to Jamaica or Florida, "in the private jet."
Looking back on the beauty queen experience, she says, "I used it as a means to make money. I had planned to use my theatrical ambitions in a courtroom all along." About the oft-heard allegations that beauty pageant contestants are exploited sexually, she says, "You're only as exploited as you allow."