Hoping for a chance at some scholarship money and the chance to travel, Sunnyside High School senior Marisol Velazquez is running for the title of Miss Washington Teen USA.
Currently Velazquez holds the title of Miss Yakima County Teen USA.
Velazquez is the last Sunnyside Miss Cinco de Mayo, having reigned in 2009 and 2010. She decided to compete for Miss Washington Teen USA to be a role model for other young girls.
"I want to have the experience of representing our community in a pageant like that," she said of the Miss Washington Teen USA Pageant.
Velazquez said she found out about the pageant from her counselor. The pageant will be in Burien and will be held Saturday, Oct. 9 to Sunday, Oct. 10. Velazquez said approximately 35 other teens are in the running.
If she wins the title of Miss Washington Teen USA she will receive $60,000 in scholarship money. There will be other incentives as well.
She would participate in a reality television show about the Miss Teen USA Pageant. She would represent Washington state in the Miss Teen USA Pageant.
This really excites her. "The last (USA) pageant was held in the Bahamas," she said.
Other duties she will have as the reigning Miss Washington Teen USA is working with different charities and representing the Miss Teen USA program.
If Velazquez finishes in the top five at the pageant she'll be awarded $40,000 in scholarship money. A top 10 finish will net her $20,000 for college.
Velazquez had to raise $350 in sponsorships to claim the title of Miss Yakima County Teen USA. To enter the Miss Washington Teen USA Pageant, she had to raise $1,295 in sponsorships.
"I got that in about a week," she said.
Velazquez visited her former sponsors when she ran for Miss Cinco de Mayo and they were glad to help.
"I'm very lucky for their support," she said.
She said she's been practicing very hard for the pageant, going to Seattle on weekends since July.
The state pageant will consist of a swimsuit competition, an interview with the judges, an evening gown competition and an on-stage question.
Asked if she was nervous, Velazquez said no. "I feel pretty confident in myself," she added.
The public will vote for the candidate they believe is the most photogenic. To do this, Velazquez said, people can log onto www.misswashingtonusa.com and view photos of the candidates. The public can then vote for which one they think is the most photogenic.
Velazquez is a senior at Sunnyside High School this year and would like to attend the University of Washington after graduation.
"I'd like to thank everyone, my sponsors, my family and my friends, for supporting me," she said.