| Communication Major Wins Miss Houston Pageant |
Ligia de Uriarte, a junior communication major at the University of St. Thomas, may be a newcomer in the pageant scene, but she is already making a name for herself. In April 2014, only seven months after her first pageant, she was crowned Miss Houston at the 2014 Miss Houston Pageant.
“I always told my dad I wanted to be Miss Universe, so I figured I had to start somewhere,” she said. Miss Texas USA was her first pageant experience. While it is customary for contestants to have titles behind them before competing on the state level, de Uriarte did not. “I just decided to go for it,” she said. She finished in the top 12 finalist out of 130 competitors.
In 2012, de Uriarte competed alongside 11 women in the Hispanic reality TV show “Nuestra Belleza Latina.” The show is produced by Univision and features 12 women who compete for the title of Nuestra Belleza Latina, and the opportunity to become a TV personality for Univision. Despite not winning, she was offered a position as an on-camera freelance talent with Univision and has worked with the company since 2012.
Normally, competitors start out in smaller pageants and win local titles before moving on to state level pageants. De Uriarte trained for three months with her coach before stepping on the stage for Miss Houston, and she credits him with helping her to be mentally and physically prepared for the pageant.
“He helps me with everything,” she said. “From training to questions the judges might ask me. They can be as simple as something from my bio or something completely different to try to throw me off.”
The Miss Texas USA pageant requires that contestants get themselves ready for the pageant without the help of professionals.
“They want to know that when you go to an event you can make yourself look great because you won’t always have someone there to do it for you,” de Uriarte said.
One of the perks of being crowned Miss Houston is the support of sponsors. De Uriarte said that sponsors take care of all the expenses that come with training: gowns, hair and makeup, and coaching.
When it comes to preparing for a pageant, the support system a contestant has is just as important as the coach. De Uriarte said her family and friends are her biggest supporters.
“They come to my pageants,” she said. “It’s nice to look out into the audience and see familiar faces.”
But pageants are not just about a contestants’ ability to smile and walk across a stage. “Pageants really bring out the best in you, and they’re demanding,” de Uriarte said. “You always have to be at your best performance when you’re competing.”
De Uriarte, a transfer student from Lonestar College Montgomery, transferred to UST in 2013 and said she has enjoyed her time here. “My two older brothers went there, and I knew it was a good school,” she said. “And I wanted to stay close to home.”
In addition to working at Univision, de Uriarte was an anchor for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and she hosted the 14th Annual Latin Grammys.
De Uriarte is an active volunteer with Latin American Children’s Extraordinary Support, an organization that works to reunite children with their families who are in their native country, and will soon join the JuCan foundation, a group dedicated to helping children with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
By Elaine Rivera