Miss Victoria Pageant helps future lawyer find her voice – Victoria Advocate | Candle Made Easy

The 2022 Miss Victoria Pageant returned at the VISD Fine Arts building on Saturday night and returning contestant Kaylee Rodriguez will always cherish her experience as she took the stage for the last time and as Miss Victoria left.

Rodriguez, 20, has wanted to enter beauty pageants since she was young. She watched pageants with women in their elegant dresses and dreamed that one day it would be her.

Still, she was always hesitant to take the plunge into pageant because she was either too busy or not confident enough to be comfortable on stage, she said.

It took a friend in college who was involved in beauty pageants to finally bring Rodriguez into the new scene she had admired since she was a teenager.

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Kaylee Rodriguez hugs her mother Kristin Cantu after winning Miss Victoria in the Miss Victoria 2022 pageant at the Victoria Fine Arts Cemter on Saturday night.

In 2021 she competed in her first Miss Victoria Pageant and while she didn’t win, the experience took her from someone lacking in confidence to someone who could take on the world.

This year she had some challenges with nervousness as she delivered her speech and answered her final question about her Be Kind community service project helping the homeless with The Salvation Army.

After learning from her first experiences on stage, she said she was confident she would do better this year. She said that since the final question was moved this year to be part of the pre-show interview rather than on stage, she felt more comfortable describing her latest Be Kind project – the collaboration with the Vine School, which specializes in teaching stage performance to children on the autism spectrum.

On Saturday the interview with Rodriquez was done in the morning and she felt it went well. She remembered how her interlocutors laughed and engaged with her.

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Kasey Rios does Kaylee Rodriguez’s hair before the Miss Victoria pageant Saturday.

A challenge for all participants was the oppressive heat in the Fine Art Center. As they went through the final rehearsals, they tried to take care of their hair and makeup as the air conditioning was struggling to run at full capacity before the show.

Then, an hour before the competition, all the participants went in and got ready. Rodriguez’s mother, Kristin Cantu, and her aunt, Kasey Rios, helped their Miss Victoria contestant backstage.

Rodriguez’s mother did what she could to help, but Rios was the one who excelled with hair and makeup, so Cantu said she just got out of the way.

2022 Miss Victoria Pageant Contestants

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Kaylee Rodriguez celebrates with her aunt Kacey Rios after winning Miss Victoria at the Miss Victoria 2022 pageant

“Since she started, she’s opened up so much more,” Cantu said of her daughter.

It’s been a joy to see how she’s progressed since attending the pageant last year, she said. “We are very proud of them.”

Before taking the stage, the 22 contestants in four divisions wished each other luck while the sashes and crowns waited backstage with bouquets of flowers to honor this year’s court.

Each contestant walked the stage in a formal dress, each as elegant and as beautiful as the contestants who wore them. The crowd cheered as everyone gave speeches.

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Kaylee Rodriguez looks over her makeup and hairspray while her aunt Kasey Rios and mother Kristin Cantu help her get ready for the Miss Victoria Pageant Saturday.

As Rodriguez confidently took the stage in her sparkling royal blue one-leg slit dress, she left the audience with a farewell message.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but you’ll never forget how they felt,” she said of her Vine School experience.

This is the last year Rodriguez will take the stage as the University of Houston-Victoria student pursues a career as a family law attorney to help children and families, particularly those involved with child protection services.

“No matter what happens, I’m glad I did it,” she said ahead of the pageant. “It prepared me to step into any space and be myself without hesitation.”

As the contestants gathered on stage, the winners in each category were announced in turn – from Miss Photogenic, Miss Congeniality, Miss Ambassador and finally the pageant winner.

As host Gary Moses read, the Miss Victoria Rodriguez winner was stunted, she said. After 18 months of competing in beauty pageants, learning from her early experiences to better herself while working three jobs and being on the UHV deanship list, Rodriguez was crowned Miss Victoria in 2022.

Pink confetti fell from above to greet Miss Victoria’s new court as Rodriguez’s mother and aunt rushed backstage, filled with excitement and pride for the new queen.

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Kristin Cantu does Kaylee Rodriguez’s makeup before the Miss Victoria pageant Saturday

“It was just something that she set out to do, and she just surpassed everyone’s expectations,” said Rios. “So proud of her.”

After the pageant, Rodriguez said she was close to tears of joy.

“It didn’t feel real, it didn’t feel like they said my name,” she said. “It took me a moment to go into total shock when I realized they were saying my name.”

Not sure if she will push her beauty pageant career any further, Rodriguez opts to see how her reign goes. Separately, she said she’s proud of how she was able to take last year’s feedback and turn it into success — before moving on to her law career.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Kyle Cotton graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, healthcare, finance, government, technology, oil and gas, and higher education.

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