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Pantoja Continues Competitive Streak
MISS CA daisy cheer
Pantoja proudly sported her Escalon Cougars jersey and pom poms while performing during the talent portion.

Daisy Pantoja, recent EHS graduate, started her career in pageantry with the Miss Escalon competition of 2016, earning the title of second runner-up. She recently participated in the California State Scholarship Competition, walking away with a state finalist title.

The latter competition was held in Santa Cruz, and girls competed for the ultimate Miss California State title. The program, run by Youth Focus Inc., is not directly affiliated with the Miss California USA competition.

During the Miss Escalon 2016 competition, director of the Miss California State competition, Kristina Stamper visited the candidates and taught them walking techniques to hold a better stage presence. Later, Stamper recruited Pantoja to join Miss California State this July.

“I was interested, but it was a lot of money to join,” Pantoja said.

Luckily, her community was able to come together and she was soon supported by several sponsors.

Pantoja traveled from Escalon to the Santa Cruz Convention Center from July 10-15. Competitors came from as far as San Diego and Los Angeles.

“When I got there, it was so crazy,” she said. She and 10 other young women, ages 17 to 24, all became close over the next six days through their time spent together.

Pantoja admitted, “Everyone is so friendly and kind. The last day we all started crying. Even though it’s a competition, you still make that bond.”

The week was full of workshops and activities. The first day, the young women traveled to Great America and bonded with one another during their visit. The rest of the week was dedicated to improving talent skills, leadership, and developing public speaking abilities.

Part of the competition included an advocacy speech, and the subject of Pantoja’s speech was a surprising one: depression. She shared that she had struggled with the condition and was familiar with it. She said that she prepared by doing, “a lot of research on my own self.”

Along with speaking, she created a three-minute video about depression and how it made her feel in order to raise awareness.

A portion of the competition that she was notably nervous for was the ‘fishbowl’ question, where candidates are asked a question at random. Pantoja’s question asked how she had been involved with efforts to go green. She noted that she had said “going green” was important to her on her application for the Miss California State competition and was able to answer with the activities she’d participated in: beach cleanups in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.

Her talent was a mixture of dance and cheer. Though she was also struck by nerves during her performance, she was able to keep up by the end of the dance.

When all was said and done, Pantoja laughed and revealed that “it may seem really cheesy” but she ultimately found out the most important lesson is “to learn to love yourself.”

She noted that the competition was a lot of work, but she’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in trying it.

Pantoja is now preparing for her next competition--the Reinas de las Fiestas Patrias (the Queen of the Civic Festival), which revolves around Mexican culture. She attends practices in Sacramento on Saturdays and will be participating in the beauty pageant Sept. 2.