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2009’s Miss DC, Jen Corey, has surprise engagement at the Newseum

Jen Corey and Joshua Baca. (Photograher Sonya Gavankar McKay) Jen Corey and Joshua Baca. (Photograher Sonya Gavankar McKay)

The whole thing seemed “really sketchy,” said Jen Corey, Miss DC 2009, about an e-mail she received a few weeks ago from her friend and fellow title holder, Miss DC 1997, Sonya Gavankar. Gavankar invited Corey to a photo shoot for a magazine she’d never heard of, DC Grrl.

“I actually Googled it,” said Corey who agreed to the shoot at the Newseum after yet another former Miss DC, 2006’s Kate Michael, also got on board.

On the afternoon of May 10 as she slipped into her Mac Duggal gown, Corey, 26, wondered if this might not be a set up. She’d been dating former Mitt Romney campaign staffer Joshua Baca, 30, for nearly a year and a half. “It’d be stupid if Joshua doesn’t propose today.” Corey remembered thinking as she headed up the elevator to the sixth floor shoot, “I’m already dressed up.”

Meanwhile, Baca was “just sort of hanging around in the corner trying to kill time” with a diamond engagement ring from Boone & Sons burning a hole in his suit pocket.

“I don’t think she was on to me at all,” said Baca who emerged from his hiding place bearing two dozen roses as the photo shoot began.

Corey admits to being thrown off guard despite her suspicions. “As he was walking toward me, I kept thinking, ‘How did I miss this?'”

After the proposal (she said “yes”) the newly engaged couple headed to the scene of their first date– Zaytinya in Chinatown. They’d been set up by a member of the Miss DC board, of course. Hours later, they had an engagement party at Coco Sala, Corey’s favorite restaurant. On Friday, they’re headed to Jamaica to celebrate yet another pageant love connection: the nuptials of Ashley Boalch, Miss DC 2011, and real estate developer Michael Darby.

“We’re like one big happy family,” said Corey of the Miss DC organization.

RELATED: “Miss DC 2011 Ashley Boalch engaged to developer Michael Darby

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Helena Andrews-Dyer is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to



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