Hispanidad Title Tilts on Knowledge Contestants' Study of Latin America Plays Primary Role in Pageant Results

Article excerpt

Byline: Daily Herald staff report

When Miss Hispanidad is crowned tonight at the Wonderland Center in Elgin, she will have bested 12 other contestants in knowledge of a particular Latin American country.

Thirteen Elgin-area young women will compete for the title beginning at 6 p.m.

What's different about this pageant, organizers say, is its partial focus on geography and culture.

The sharing of knowledge about the country each contestant represents adds unique color to the festivities, said Denise Momodu, one of the pageant directors.

Before the competition begins, each girl draws the name of a Latin American country. She is then required to learn about its history, culture, politics and socio-economic background. She writes a 10-page paper and presents a Power-Point presentation to the four judges.

She also must devise a costume to represent her country, which she will parade in the pageant tonight.

The preliminary contest results count for 50-percent of the judging for the title. Results were tallied up Wednesday, but are kept secret until the judging tonight.

The pageant has grown each year since its founding in 1999. This year the young women compete for more than $10,000 scholarship awards and prizes.

Three of the pageant judges are real-life judges. They are Karen Simpson, Gene Nottolini and Michel Colwell. Attorney Garrett Malcolm joins the group.

Following are short bios of each contestant:

Regina Coeto

- Coeto, 21, an Elgin Community College student, represents Ecuador in the competition. She was born in Mexico City. She plans on attending Roosevelt University. She wants to get a bachelor's degree in advertising and promotion with a minor in French. After completing her undergraduate studies, she wants to get a master's degree in fine arts, focusing on plastic art. She is a member of the ECC honor society and Phi Theta Kappa, and has represented the Latino students at the college as vice president and treasurer of the Organization of Latin American Students. In her free time, she enjoys doing artwork.

Azucena Dias

- Diaz, 18, a student at Elgin Community College, represents Nicaragua. She was born in Mexico. She plans on attending Northern Illinois University to major in business. She plans on opening her own business someday. She has performed in talent shows and plays and sings in choruses. She also played on a soccer team. She enjoys dancing, performing, acting, reading, painting and baby-sitting.

Priscilla Gonzalez

- Gonzalez, 16, a Larkin High School student, represents Uruguay. She was born in Elgin. She plans to attend Iowa University or the University of Puerto Rico to study pediatric nursing. She is involved with Bible club, Cross Cultural Club, Sabor Latino, Black History Club and TEACH. She has volunteered at canned food drives, schools and hospitals, as well as joining in the Christmas gift giveaway at the Hemmens and breast-cancer walks. She enjoys dancing to music from different cultures, baby-sitting, shopping and learning more about the medical field.

Yahaira Guzman

- Guzman, 20, a Larkin High School graduate, represents Bolivia. She was born in Chicago. She is a junior at DePaul University, majoring in public policy and pre-law with a minor in sociology. After completing her undergraduate works, she wants to attend Northwestern University School of Law. She would like to practice law and work in the juvenile court. She one day hopes to have her own law firm and youth center for underprivileged and at-risk kids. As a student at Larkin, she was very active in school and community organizations. She is a sister of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority and vice president of the Multicultural Greek Council. …