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2017’s Miss Tulare County sits down with TheCampus for a Q&A

Dayana Flores

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Just a few weeks ago a fellow Giant student, Elizabeth Sartuche, won the prestigious title of Miss Tulare County against ten other talented women. Not only was this her second time competing in this pageant, but it is also second time winning a title and at 19 years old. Now she’s headed to compete in Fresno this summer for the next big title of Miss California. Since she is a fellow College of the Sequoias student, TheCampus decided to catch up with her and ask her about her start in beauty pageants, how she feels about the stereotypical pageant image, and of course, what it was like to win.

What’s your background in general?

“I graduated from Tulare Union High School, Class of 2016, so I am now a freshman at COS, my second semester. I’m a youngster. I’m majoring in Communications, which is subject to change because everyone usually changes, at least 20 times before finally settling down on on something, but this feels right, right now. I’ve always been super involved everywhere whether it’d be a school or in the community, I was a member of a CSET organization called #LEAD, which is under I think Step Up Tulare County. In high school, I was president of fashion club, I was in Key Club, I was in Track and Field, I was in marching band, I was in concert band, and I was in, um, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, just everything basically, everything under the sun. So now that I’m in COS, I’m in Track and Field, Cross Country, I’m not in band anymore, but I still play the flute, what else am I involved in… Suddenly I’ve never done anything in my entire life. There’s the pageant stuff that takes a lot of my time and school, I’m just a full-time student, full-time athlete and I’m very involved in my church. I’m a leader for the high school services at Visalia First and I’m on the Dream Team for Visalia Young Adults services.”

That’s so cool so, your weeks are pretty much packed all the time?

“Yes, packed, completely packed!”

Being a Communications major, where do you want to go with that?

“I’m really not sure, I’ve been asked the, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and I don’t know. So I really like people and I really like talking, so kind of makes sense that I would major in Communications, I like the stuff that helps build personal relationships just one on one and I really like public speaking or using my voice to get my ideas out there on a broad scale. That’s what I discovered the first time I competed in Miss Tulare County, but I was Miss Central Valley’s Outstanding Teen title holder in 2015 and that’s what opened up that passion of mine because it forced me out of my shell, forced me to talk to people and get on stage and talk to people and I was like, I like this, I want to make a career out of this.”

What would be your ultimate career goal, since you did say you want to do public speaking?

“You know I don’t know, I feel like there’s broad opportunity with even that job description, if you want to call it that. I’ve even considered ministry, being a pastor, I could be a therapist, a counselor, I could be a motivational speaker, there’s just a ton of jobs that fit that description and I don’t know which one exactly I envision myself in, in the future. I’m pretty sure I’ll figure it out along the way especially with this title.”

Is being a leader, making change in communities something you’d like to do because you’re obviously been very involved.

“I certainly want to be a leader, I feel like that’s kind of my calling, you know I’m not the best public speaker, I’m not the best leader right now, but it’s something, it’s a skill I want to grow and I feel like that’s what I’m doing as I’m getting involved in all these things and with my job, I definitely want to impact those who are in my sphere influence, if that’s what you call it. Leadership begins with you but then it ends with everybody else, so that’s what I want to do in whatever career I find myself in.”

Now having this title of Miss Tulare County, how do you want to represent yourself on social media?

“I try to promote myself with the same brand that Miss America does, so that’s pretty much being, it sounds cliche, but it’s just being a good role model all around, which means promoting a healthy lifestyle, um posting appropriately on social media and showing this generation what that looks like. This goes with my platform because people don’t know where the line is drawn and what’s appropriate to post.”

Are you more conscious now whenever you post anything on social media?

“Definitely, and there’s certainly a difference between what’s appropriate to post on personal [accounts] versus Miss Tulare County’s [account] because I can’t just put, ‘Shout out to my homies!’ But um, we definitely use it to promote voluntaryism, that’s pretty much 90 percent of my job as Miss Tulare County, we go out in the community and find whatever community projects are happening or we create our own and just serve wherever we can. I also like to tie in my faith in Jesus with it because scripture says that when Jesus was in this world, he didn’t come to be served, he came to serve, so I kind of want to emulate that with this title and use it with my social media as well and let my faith be know. I know that can be controversial because obviously not everyone who follows Miss Tulare County program is not a believer of Christ, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing because I’m not pushing my agenda on everybody is just the Miss America Organization promotes individualism and my faith is what makes me an individual and that’s what I want to represent.”

Now going more into pageants, when did you start becoming interested in this and why?

“I started doing pageants when I was 17 and I think I was, I never imagined that I would be a pageant girl, EVER, like anything involving glitz and glamour like cheerleading, I don’t know, I kind of just tied those two together, but I was like I can’t do that stuff, I can’t imagine myself doing anything like that. I think I was online looking for scholarships opportunities and I found this local pageant and I was like ‘Mom, can I do this?’ and she was like ‘Yea,’ so I signed up for it. Not relieved, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and lo and behold I won and I’m still learning about what the whole organization is about. I fell in love with it and how it promotes volunteerism and how it promotes the healthy lifestyle and everything and it gave me speaking skills, I gained sales marketing skills, it forced me to go out and talk to people and network, all these crazy benefits and not to mention the scholarship money.”

What are some of the achievements/titles you’ve acquired through pageantry?

“Well, this is the second local I’ve ever competed in, the third one, if you count Miss California from when I was a teen, but that’s just an automatic if you win the local you go to state and the winner of state goes to Miss America, which is the one we see on T.V. But um, technically yea, I’ve only run in two locals in my life and I’ve won both of them so, I don’t know maybe it’s my calling because I’ve had good luck with it so far, fingers crossed.”

How much did you get as a teen?

“So as a teen, I think I got $500.”

How about as a Miss?

“As a Miss I got $3,500, plus I got a little more that $4,000 in total because uh, as a winner of the title by default I get $3,500 and as a preliminary I was voted Miss Congeniality by my peers, which is an additional $500 and I also won the talent preliminary and the evening gown preliminary, which is additional scholarship money on top of the original $3,500, so I’ll be taking care for a while.”

When you started pageants did you feel intimidated at all and even now going to compete in the Miss California pageant?

“I mean, I was a teen when I ran and everyone in my class, that year, was a first timer. I kind of felt that way when I went to Miss California because that is the next process and some of those teens had been returners and they’ve been there over and over and over again, but it’s way different from this, it’s a whole different animal. Even though I’ve already experienced this once before it’s still going to be a completely different experience as a Miss because there’s going to be more expected of me. I’m going to be attending events that I couldn’t attend as a teen, there’s also the scholarship money because as a Miss it’s more relevant because you’re actually going to college. There’s even more returners in the Miss category, with the teens it’s a one time deal and they go to Miss California as something they’ll have in their back pocket. So that is something I have to face this year, but I have to remind myself that I bring something great to the table just like all them do. It’s not a matter of having enough experience in your back pocket to win or to be that role model for everybody, it’s just what you offer and what you bring to the table.”

Now being in pageants what’s your take on the whole stereotypical pageant girl image most people perceive?

“There’s definitely a stigma that surrounds pageantry especially because of shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, you just see the caddiness between the girls and all the fighting and competitiveness, but it’s definitely not like that. I kind of envisioned that, honestly the Toddler & Tiaras kind of thing upon entering the pageant the first time around, I just did it on a whim honestly I didn’t know a whole lot about the organization, I just thought, well this is different, I’m open to new experiences and I’ve never done something like this before. It’s a three month process, so as we were showing up to rehearsals and as I was learning more about the organization, what it has to offer and what it does for women and as I was meeting my fellow competitors, I thought, these girls are nothing like I see on T.V. This organization was nothing like I thought it was, it doesn’t explout women, it’s not just about physical appearance, the women that go through this organization or CEO’s of their own companies, they are advocates for charitable causes, they are owners of their own businesses already, students at Ivy League colleges, crazy intelligent and poised. So it’s awesome that I get to be around women of that caliber that have goals and are pursuing things like that. It’s not the stereotypical ditzy doesn’t have a thing in her head type girls, at all. When you see the women on T.V there’s no denying that they’re absolutely beautiful, but they didn’t make it to that point because they’re beautiful. My director will tell us all the time we’re not going to apologize for having beautiful girls who compete, that’s just coincidence and they don’t get to the point of where they are because they’re beautiful.”

How do you prepare for those nerve wracking moments of performing?

“So probably the most nerve wracking moments are on stage questions because it’s an impromptu question, you don’t know what you are going to get and you have to just pull something out of the air and answer it. The questions can be anything from what’s your favorite color to what’s going on in Iran. So the biggest thing we have to prep for is current events, keeping up on what’s happening in the political world um, so just watching the news constantly, reading the newspaper constantly, I have an email that I still read today because I have to prepare for Miss California, that gives me a rundown of what happened the day before and we have to have opinions on them.”

Having this title now how did it feel to hear your name called for the title?

“I was on cloud nine, I still am on cloud nine.”

What was going on through your head on the night of the pageant?

“The whole process, on the night of it’s so quick, it’s goes by like fast. I don’t have much time to even think like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so nervous about this..,” it’s pretty much we finish the opening number, get your on stage question done, go backstage, put your swimsuit on then run back out, go on stage with the swimsuit, go backstage, change again to come back out. By the time you are finished and we are waiting for the results backstage we’re just like, ‘Woah, that just happened, it’s done,” and now we have to play the waiting game and that’s when you get to freak out. Although, I didn’t this time around, I was very at peace with whatever the results were going to be and I was kind of the comic relief backstage when we were getting ready to go to crowning. But once we walked on I was so at peace because win or lose I feel great about what I did tonight and I love all these girls becasue we become sisters after this, after the time we spent together for three or four months.”

That’s a good mentality to have in that moment.

“It is and I ended up winning, so I didn’t really… Well, I hope that that’s the mentality that my sisters had too because that would’ve been a really great mentality to have. If I didn’t get to go home with the crown would’ve been okay because I did my best, I’m happy with what I did and I love all these girls and I know anyone of them could carry this title with grace.”

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2017’s Miss Tulare County sits down with TheCampus for a Q&A