Long before the lights fell on the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Pageant on Saturday night, Jasmine Cruz was preparing for the night ahead.
With a small stack of garment and dress bags thrown over the shoulder of a friend and Cruz carrying a small arsenal of beauty products, accessories, notebooks and bags, she made her way into the Twin Falls High School Roper Auditorium, hopeful for the coming competition.
“This is the second year I’ve been in the pageant,” said Cruz, 19, a TFHS grad now living in Boise with plans to attend beauty school and then Boise State University. “What’s hard is getting the budget to go. I’m hoping this pageant helps me pay for school because I really want to go.”
Fourteen girls from across southern Idaho vied for thousands in scholarship dollars, including the $1,500 prize awarded to the queen- down to a $100 prize given to Miss Congeniality.
“Seriously, every little bit helps,” Cruz said.
Friend Mireya Valdez, of Boise, said she was inspired by Cruz regardless of whether or not she took home a crown.
“It’s great there is help for Hispanic girls and Jasmine is a good role model for younger girls ... she’s trying to do the right thing,” Valdez said.
Helping girls like Cruz succeed has been the dream for pageant co-creators Noel and Dana Morfin, of Twin Falls.
Noel Morfin said the pageant was created to focus more on “scholarship” than beauty, with girls competing in essay, interview, fitness, talent and poise and beauty.
“There aren’t too many places for Hispanic girls to show their talents or find scholarship money and we wanted to create that opportunity,” he said. “The talent competition is an expression of culture.”
For its tenth year, the pageant drew past queen and princess winners to sit on its five-member panel of judges. Another trait they all shared?
“Each of the judges have gone to college and gotten their degrees,” Morfin said.
“So many of our queens are pursuing advanced degrees, they are active members of the Hispanic community and to see that, it’s a dream come true because that is exactly what we wanted from this pageant,” said Dana Morfin.
Blair Koch may be reached at email@example.com or 316-2607.