She describes herself as a tomboy and kind of a feminist, so naturally, when Claudia Tristán told her family she was going to be participating in a pageant that consisted of something to a similar level of ‘Miss Congeniality,’ they were shocked.
“I’m lucky if I brush my hair in the morning, or find a hairbrush regardless,” she said.
Tristán said she was contacted exactly one week before the actual event because the organization needed more participants. She said she was hesitant at first due to the $200 sponsorship money she needed to collect for the pageant, but after hearing about the possible scholarship she could win, she said she was interested.
Tristán said this is not the first time she has considered running for Miss Hispanic Lubbock. She said two years ago she and her best friend competed together, but Tristán said she ended up not following through because she did not get enough donations in time. This year, Tristán said Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D., Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communications, offered to help her with the donations she needed.
Wilkinson works in the Thomas J Harris Institute for Hispanic International Communication, and he said one of the institute’s goals is community outreach. He said not only does he want to get the word out about the institute, but to also be involved in cultural activities that are going on around the Lubbock area.
“When one of our accomplished students decides to do something like this, it’s a win-win,” said Wilkinson. “For her to be a part of the pageant and to help show that we’re supporting talented, young people like Claudia is definitely the goal.”
After she got her sponsorship money, Tristán said the rest fell into place. She said she started rehearsing for the pageant four days before the competition. Tristán said she felt bad because the other girls competing for the title applied back in July and had been practicing at least three weeks before her. She said she felt as if she swooped in and stole the title in a way. Tristán said she was flattered that the judges saw something in her, and said she was excited to represent the Lubbock community with her new title.
But in order for Tristán to win, she said she had to work hard in a short period of time. Not only did she have to have a platform for what she wanted to do for the Hispanic community of Lubbock (which just so happens to be reducing diabetes, and is fairly prominent in said community) she also had to put together all of her outfits, present herself to the audience in Spanish, and have a performance for the talent section. Tristán said her choice for the talent portion was salsa dancing.
Overall, she said she was nervous throughout the entire pageant, but admitted that it was nothing like Miss America by any means. Tristán said there was an interview the day before the pageant, and she said it might have helped her win. She laughed out loud when she said she did not feel like the pageantry aspect was largely emphasized.
Wilkinson seemed to agree when he said he would like to think the title of Miss Hispanic Lubbock was more about a woman’s values rather than her ability to just be pretty and well-spoken. He said that is another reason why Tristán won the competition. He said she has a lot of experience in different cultures from moving around different countries when she was younger. He said he would like to think that she has a background of being diverse, which he said he would consider important.
“I don’t think I was the prettiest or the most talented there,” she said. “I think it’s more about the community. That’s what helps you win. They should take out the word pageant and just leave it as Miss Hispanic Lubbock Competition.”
Tristán said she probably will not participate in another pageant after her duties of being Miss Hispanic Lubbock are over, but she said she would encourage any young woman to participate in this opportunity. She said by simply competing, the women have the opportunity to put the event on their resume, make connections, get some public speaking practice in, and have fun.
“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I was like, how did this happen? I guess it was supposed to happen. I’m very flattered for sure. I hope the other girls compete again.”