Jazmine Parra of Hollister was awarded first runner-up in the Miss Hispanidad International Teen pageant Sept. 29 in San Gabriel.
Parra, 17, was “ecstatic” and “in shock” when she was crowned with the new title of Miss Hispanidad Teen Hollywood, she said.
“I felt a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “All my hard work and dedication paid off and I couldn’t be happier.”
She left home in August for Los Angeles to begin pageant training.
“It was my first time leaving my family but I knew that it was for my future and that I had to focus,” Parra said.
Miss Hispanidad International Teen contestants represented a culture or country of their choice. Parra represented USA California.
Parra’s upbringing played a role in her decision to represent USA California.
“Even though I came from a small town and it’s only my third pageant, I can really just pursue my dreams,” Parra said.
Miss Hispanidad International strives to empower young ladies to pursue their dreams through training in personal development, stage presence, modeling techniques and public speaking, said Silvio Nicholas Walters, pageant producer and president of Miss Hispanidad International LLC.
Walters worked with each contestant personally in the weeks before the pageant.
“It’s all teaching them how to embrace their culture and their diversity – promote, celebrate it and be themselves,” Walters said.
For Parra, the most difficult part about preparing for the teen pageant was overcoming her fear of being who she is.
“I learned you don’t have to focus on what other people are doing,” she said.
Added Walters: “Our goal is to crown the girl who has the best performance in interview and stage presence, to represent us at Miss California Teen USA.”
MHI will send Savannah Palacio, newly crowned Miss Hispanidad International Teen, to Miss California Teen USA in January. It will send Parra to Miss California Teen USA in 2014.
Parra competed in Miss California Teen USA last January but she didn’t place. She plans to enter the pageant on her own devices in 2013.
“My goal is to go back and make that top 20,” Parra said. “I know that I’m improving.”
Making friends was easy in the pageant, Parra said. She and Palacio became like sisters during their time training together for MHI Teen.
As Parra and Palacio stood together on stage, waiting to see who would be named Miss Hispanidad International Teen, Palacio yelled out, “She’s my best friend!”
Parra and Palacio will compete against each other again at Miss California Teen USA 2013.
After her pageant career Parra wants to come back to Hollister and help the community. “I want to show people that if you follow your dreams you will end up being happy,” she said.
Parra has volunteered with the Baler Backers, an organization that raises funds for the San Benito High School Athletic Department.
In 2011 she helped the Baler Backers with its golf tournament and its annual Baler Summer Nights fundraiser.
Parra has lived in Hollister with her family since 1996. She graduated from San Benito High School in 2012.