José Cárdenas: The Miss Arizona Latina pageant competition celebrates Latina beauty and culture in the state and the nation. Brenda Soto won the crown in 2013. She is a civil engineering student at the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU. Here is Brenda Soto, Miss Arizona Latina for 2013. First, congratulations on your achievements.
Brenda Soto: Thank you.
José Cárdenas: It is a great accomplishment. Tell us a little bit about your personal background and then we will talk more about the pageant itself.
Brenda Soto: Well, I was born and raised in Mexico, until the age of nine. That was when my parents decided to migrate to the U.S. in search of a better life and a better future in school for us, me and my brothers. Right now we are living in Tempe.
José Cárdenas: And you’re a senior at ASU.
Brenda Soto: Yes, I am.
José Cárdenas: And your brother is also a student as ASU.
Brenda Soto: Yes. He is a sophomore, he’s doing business. And I am a senior, studying civil engineering.
José Cárdenas: How did you come to be involved in the beauty pageant? Was this your first one?
Brenda Soto: Yes, this was the first beauty pageant. I was nominated. I decided to go seek more information on what it was, the requirements. I decided to join and take a chance.
José Cárdenas: And what was it about the pageant or whatever you were told about it that made you decide that this is something that you wanted to do?
Brenda Soto: I never have been in a pageant before, and I thought being involved in a pageant would help me grow personally, and be more open individual, so joining the Miss Arizona Latina pageant has really helped me accomplish that.
José Cárdenas: As I understand, there are several weeks of preparation that you go through. Tell us about that.
Brenda Soto: There are about two months of preparation, and in those two months, there are many classes for etiquette classes, fitness, and as well as classes which are preparing us for the big day, which was this past June 2nd.
José Cárdenas: The big day consists of what? I assume various elements of the competition. What was that like?
Brenda Soto: On June 2nd, we started the competition with an interview with six judges. All of the girls were individual interviews. So that was part of the preliminary stage. The other part of the stage of the competition was a swimwear competition, evening gown and the final was a final question.
José Cárdenas: How many people in the competition?
Brenda Soto: A total of 32 other girls.
José Cárdenas: So, you said the final part of the competition was the individual question. What was the question you were asked and how did you answer it?
Brenda Soto: Okay. My question was, what has been your biggest challenge in life? And my answer was my biggest challenge has been to develop myself both personally and professionally without forgetting my ethnic background.
José Cárdenas: Now, what does that mean to you when you say without forgetting your ethnic background? How have you made that part of your life?
Brenda Soto: This is a Latina pageant. So, the ethnicity is very important and becoming someone in a country that is not your own is very important. And I believe that carrying on your roots and not forgetting where you come from is really the main point and very important to not forget.
José Cárdenas: As Miss Arizona Latina, what kinds of duties and obligations have you had?
Brenda Soto: I have been part of several community service events, as well as speak different events. And I've -- we have helped children in need by fundraisers and things like that.
José Cárdenas: And when we talked off screen about this event and what it meant to you, you said it was important to you that part of what they were looking for was somebody that could be a role model. Why is that?
Brenda Soto: Yeah, it is very important to be a role model. They are not just searching for a model; they are searching for a role model. It is very important to have someone that has -- that little girls can look up to. For me, I am a civil engineering student, so I can let those girls know that they can be in school and they can also accomplish that -- anything they set their mind to.
José Cárdenas: Brenda Soto, Miss Arizona Latina, congratulations once again and thank you for joining us.
Brenda Soto: Thank you.