|Miss Tennessee Latina 2013|
Photo used with permission.
Gonzalez was crowned in May at the state pageant in Clarksville.
Gonzalez, 20 years old, was born in Cuba, grew up in Dalton, Georgia, and is a student at South College in Knoxville, where she is studying radiography with a concentration in nuclear medicine. "Miss" category runners-up included Yesenia Quinos of Chattanooga, Ana Maria Castaneda of Nashville, and Stephanie Amezcua of Clarksville. The category age bracket is from 19 to 27.
Daniela Martinez of Franklin was crowned Miss Teen Tennessee Latina 2013 at the state pageant in May, as well. Martinez is a senior at Franklin High School (Class of 2014), is a member of the National Honors Society and the French and English Honors Society, and is a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. "Miss Teen" runners-up included Kaila Saira Jones of Clarksville, Valeria Garcia of Antioch, Angela Perez of Nashville, and Bryanna Canales of Clarksville. The teen category is for 13- to 18-year-olds.
|Miss Teen Tennessee Latina 2013|
Photos used with permission.
Hats off to State Directors Mildred Veron & Vicky Shuler, who took over the pageant in 2011. From the pageants' Facebook presence, it appears that the title holders have been spreading the word. Veron tells HispanicNashville.com that the state pageants in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama teamed up to promote their titleholders as the "Queens of the South." The Georgia coordinators also run the pageants in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Veron and Shuler are looking at organizing Kentucky, as well.
There are at least two newspaper profiles of Gonzalez worth your time - the first appeared in the Dalton Daily Citizen - it's a great story, written by Christopher Smith, and it starts out like this:
She doesn’t remember it, but Leyanet Gonzalez said she came to Miami from Cuba on a small boat when she was an infant.
“My mom said it was scary, that there was nothing but flat water for days,” said Gonzalez, now 20, of Dalton. “She said there was no way to know where you were. We had to go towards the Gulf of Mexico then to Miami to avoid the main currents. The Coast Guard expected us to go that way.”
Now a legal citizen since 2000, Gonzalez says she does her best to make her family, still in Dalton, proud. That means straight A’s, attending South College in Knoxville as a junior, pursuing medical school, and on May 18, winning the Miss Tennessee Latina pageant in Clarksville, Tenn.The second was published by the Knoxville News-Sentinel, written by Alex Thomason, and here is an excerpt:
She also draws strength from her brother, who struggled to speak English in school when the family came to the U.S. Today, he is in his third year of pharmacy school at Belmont University.
Gonzalez said pageants allow her to feel empowered and use that strength for the betterment of young people. She entered her first beauty pageant on a whim at age 20 and was awarded runner-up. The second contest was Miss Tennessee Latina.You also have to love Knoxville.com for its story giving props to the beauty queen's parents Leonel Gonzalez and Julia Pujol.
The Facebook pages for the two state pageant categories and also the national pageant are here:
Previous winners of the state pageant can be found here. The face of the pageant from May 2012 to May 2013 was Miss Teen Latina Tennessee 2012 Karen Renee Valencia of LaVergne. Karen is an honors student at LaVergne High School and a member of the school chapter of Health Occupational Students of America. She plans to attend Vanderbilt University and study medicine, in hopes of becoming an OB/GYN.
The Miss Tennessee Latina 2012 title that had been awarded to Jessica Paola Abtahi was revoked "as a result of not fulfilling her obligations, as required of a state titleholder," according to the organization.
Read more about Miss Tennessee Latina 2013 Leyanet Gonzalez in profiles published by the Dalton Daily Citizen and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.