There she is, Miss America!
It’s that time of the year again. A group of 52 young women will compete tonight for the coveted title of Miss America in swimsuit, talent, evening gown and interview portions.
This year’s celebrity judges will include Grammy Award winner Ciara, entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, and musician and actress Laura Marano.
Watch the 96th annual pageant as it airs live from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall at 9 p.m. ET on ABC— but before you catch the big event, get to know the Latinas vying for the Miss America crown.
Miss Puerto Rico
Name: Carole Rigual
Talent: Monologue called “Crossroads”
Platform: The Child of Today is the Adult of Tomorrow: Children Victim of Sexual Abuse
Favorite Quote: “Nothing is impossible.”
Q: Puerto Rico has never won the Miss America crown, what would winning mean to you?
A: “Winning the crown on September 11 would be a dream come true and an opportunity to give hope to my island in a moment of crisis. The Miss America crown will be a tool to spread my voice of diversity across the United States. To have the honor to represent not just Americans but people that come to this country to pursue a dream, an education, or a better life. I’m excited to meet the amazing children treated in Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and continue working with my platform on a national level.”
Q: What is your message to the Americans who don’t consider Puerto Rico to be a part of the country?
A: “We all have our opinions and I respect each of them but, we have Puerto Ricans doing an amazing job and contributing to our society in so many ways. Like Lin Manuel Miranda, who wrote Hamilton (winner of 11 Tony Awards). Athletes, doctors, writers, painters, actors, designers, and many others that make a difference in our country every day.”
Name: Kendall Bautista
Occupation: Stylist/Sales Associate, Michael Kors
Platform: The Power of One – Making a Difference
Favorite Quote: “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Maya Angelou
Q: Tell us a little more about how it is growing up Latino in Alaska?
A: “Our state is very culturally diverse; however, there really isn’t a very large Hispanic population. My dad was in the military which is what brought us to Alaska. Being in Alaska obviously separated us from our extended families, so our family friends became the “family” with whom we shared many holidays and significant life events, including cascarones at Easter!”
Q: What significance does diversity have for you?
A: “I love the diversity of my state and our nation! My own culture has been shaped by the rich diversity of family, friends, and neighbors from whom I learned a deep appreciation and respect all people! Being a military dependent, I’ve had the opportunity to share holiday traditions with people of other faiths and cultures. I grew up surrounded by role models and friends who were diverse. For me, the significance is, “we’re more alike than we are different” (Maya Angelou).”
Miss New Mexico
Name: Stephanie Chavez
Platform: Stephanie’s Ponytail: How I Learned To Read
Favorite Quote: “Know who you are, like who you are, maintain who you are”- Unknown
Q: How important is it for you to represent Latinos in the Miss America pageant?
A: “It means a great deal to me to be representing the Latino community however, I am also excited to be representing women as well.”
Q: Your question from the night you were crowned [Miss New Mexico] was about immigration, has your opinion stayed the same in that Americans should remain open?
A: “Yes, immigration is what makes America great. We need immigration to continue, however, we need to make sure immigrants are becoming legal citizens to ensure the security and the well being of the U.S. and its people.”