Crunch Time

Over the past several days, all of the contestants have been flooded with Miss California Latina emails outlining the weekend and all of its fun events. We also received photographs of our Opening Number dress, our shoes, and two-piece bikini. Of course I’d like to share the photos with you but the organization asked we keep everything private until the actual weekend. What I can describe to you is the Opening Number dress is a simple one shoulder pink cocktail dress paired with nude opened toed ankle strapped heels. The bikini, however, is something I’ll have to physically see in person since the photo didn’t have the best quality and the pattern looked like something military personnel wear in combat. Regardless of how the outfits fit (which I’m hoping everything fits like a glove) I’m thankful they are free and all contestants get to take them home plus further goodies.

With all of the emails coming in full force, I finally feel like this is really happening. I had known I was going to participate in the pageant since September 2012 so now that it’s only three weeks away, my mind is blown away. I’m very excited to have this whole pageant experience part of my life and everything that has come my way because of my Miss San Jose Latina title. This whole year has been a blessing and I’m definitely looking forward to the pageant weekend!

Love,
Kassie P.

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Dia de los Muertos

Over the weekend, I made a pageant appearance at National Hispanic University for their annual Dia de los Muertos* celebration. Not only was seeing the alters and amazing art work in remembrance of past loved ones a beautiful sight but I also had the opportunity to meet and speak with young girls and their families about what it means to be a “beauty queen.” I was approached by a supportive father whose daughter was a bit too shy to personally ask me pageant questions but nonetheless, I was so happy I could inspire the young girl to go for her dreams. The father let me know his daughter was an aspiring model and actress but needed that extra boost of confidence. As I was telling the young girl this had been my first pageant ever and I had made it this far, she began smiling with a twinkle in her eye as if she was thinking that she too, could someday have the same possibilities.

Aside from meeting local vendors and doing some retail therapy, I also got to spend the afternoon with some very talented musicians and friends, Raul y Mexia*. The brother band (and sons of Hernan Hernandez from legendary group Los Tigres del Norte) performed for the audience and of course rocked the house! The brothers, who I met through Claudia Candelas*** (wife of Raul and my co-founder of “Stiletto Girls,” my next blogging project) have been touring throughout the United States so I was happy I got to spend some time with them while promoting my title.

Now that Miss California Latina is just around the corner, I’ve been reflecting a bit more on this entire year. I feel extremely proud of myself because I’ve gotten out into the community more than ever and have had some amazing opportunities come my way with just the current title I have now. I don’t know what the future holds for me pageant wise but just as the little girl saw that “I’ve made it,” I see Raul y Mexia living out their dreams who most likely at one point of their lives looked up to their dad with that same twinkle in their eyes… thinking of all of the possibilities.

*To view a view a video project on Dia de los Muertos I filmed, produced and edited while at SJSU please click here

**Please visit Raul Y Mexia to view pictures and hear some amazing Latin beats!

***Please visit Claudia’s blog

View some pictures from the event under my “Photos” page!

Love,
Kassie P.

The Platform I Need

I have one of the greatest jobs (aside from writing) which is working with middle school aged youth. Everyday is such a different experience and though times can become absolutely chaotic I have an amazing time with all of my students. Our teens come from various backgrounds and all walks of life but one thing that remains constant is their need for stability. Our program is designed to allow all families to feel welcomed regardless of their income, so it isn’t very surprising to know that over half of our students are being sponsored or are receiving financial assistance to be in a safe, well structured environment. Thankfully, many outside programs like free after school bus drop offs are available for the teens but unfortunately they interfere with our program times not allowing those students to participate in our program. Students who would perhaps be interested in joining our activities and know they will be provided with a California State Board Standard nutritious snack are unable to attend and are often forced to find other means of keeping busy without trouble finding them first.

There are moments in life when you get hit with a big reality check and every worry, complaint and any other negative mindset quickly dissolves in an instant…and today was one of them. School officials at work were exposed to what a young boy had been hiding: no soles on the bottoms of his shoes along with dirty ripped white socks. School officials only took notice because he had asked for duct tape so he could piece what was left of his shoes just in time for P.E class. Immediately, the Principal and other officials were notified and money from the school’s “Families in Need Fund*” were taken out and brand new shoes and socks were provided for the innocent child who had had a complete emotional breakdown the class period prior. To make matters more heartbreaking, the new pair of shoes he received were a size 6, when his worn down shoes were a size 4-and-a-half. Though this child falls under the category of not being able to participate in our program due to free transportation, he is just one of the many other children at our school who live with devastating secrets of poverty.

Though there are various fun and exciting reasons why I’d like to be crowned Miss California Latina, I feel this opportunity would give me the perfect platform I need in order to reach out to those in need. I believe having a title, anywhere you go, has so much power and if you properly use that power for the goodness of others, so much success and positive change can occur. As mentioned in previous posts, I was raised to always give to others, especially if you have the capacity and means to do so. Though I haven’t yet experienced the big pageant weekend, I feel I’ve already been able to reach out to many through this very blog. Whether it be inspiring another to enter a pageant or help raise $100 for a San Jose gang related funeral, I feel this pageant experience has already given me the type of platform I’m looking for.

*To help other families in need, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/4n3nn0 and donate! All proceeds will go directly to the “Families in Need Fund”

Love,
Kassie P.

Mexican Heritage Plaza

Last night, I had the great honor of attending San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza for a guest appearance. The Mexican Heritage Plaza is a cultural center in the heart of East San Jose showcasing the Latino/Chicano culture through performances such as theater,singing and dancing. During my college years, my sorority Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc., was heavily involved with the Plaza volunteering as ushers and guides for annual events so when I received an email from the director asking if I’d be able to attend upcoming shows, I was more than delighted to say yes. As soon as I arrived to the center, I was greeted by giddy elementary school girls who were in awe of meeting and taking pictures with a “beauty queen.” My parents, who also joined in the fun, offered to take behind the scenes photos* while I mingled with guests and promoted my title.

As I was speaking with guests and taking pictures, I had a feeling of such great fulfillment. Everyone who walked by and noticed my sash either complimented or congratulated me on my title. Having my family supporting me for such a small, local event meant so much to me because I could tell they too, were proud of my pageant accomplishments. Though I don’t know what my pageant life fate lies ahead of me, I’ve had an amazing time being involved with the community and a city I deeply adore.

*To see some photos of last night’s event, please visit my Photos page.

Love,
Kassie P.