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By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
LOCKNEY – Monique Lara has her eyes on the top prize when she competes in the Our Diamond Miss Pageant national competition in July.
Looking to repeat her 2019 Glamour and Sweepstakes titles and add a few more titles to her list, Lara will be competing six categories – party dress, school day dress wear, talent, sparkle and shine, casual wear and interview – in the national event set for July 13 – 17 in Chickasha, Okla.
Our Diamond Miss Pageant has provided young women from across the U.S. an avenue to compete in different areas for 40 years, Lara said, adding this is not only a competition in beauty, but one that also showcases talent and has a one-on-one interview. According to the pageant’s website, every child should have the chance to be judged by fair, impartial and unbiased judges on their own ability, talent and beauty. The goal, it states, is the prepare every child for the Miss America pageant system.
“Pageants are a way for helping girls build self-esteem,” Lara said. “They help pay your way to college or trade schools. They are even a place for the contestants to make friends with people from different cultures.”
For the talent portion of the competition, Lara will be performing a dance number. She has been taking dance lesson and gymnastics from Sherry Fogerson for many years, practicing tap, jazz and ballet along with her weekly gym class.
“Ms. Sherry helps me design a dance number, and she works with me each week. I also have to practice daily at home on my own,” Lara said. “Competing is something that I love. When I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to compete.”
Pageant competition takes a lot of hard work and tremendous dedication.
“I don’t diet. My favorite food is enchiladas, and I love sour candy. I simply eat those foods in moderation. I work out to keep my muscle tone,” Lara said.
In 2018, Lara competed in a preliminary Our Diamond Miss pageant in Borger and won the Small Modeling title in her division. She went on to compete in the national Our Diamond Girl and Our Diamond Miss. She won the Young Division of Our Diamond Girl and took the titles of Young Miss Model and Talent Queen at Our Diamond Miss.
Competing in these pageants is costly, she said, adding this competition will cost about $2,000 in fees, hotels and the cost of fuel. To help offset expenses, Lara and her family hold fundraisers.
“If my mom is going to stay up all night and make cheesecakes to sell then I’m going to help her. If she’s cooking plates to sell then I’m going to do all I can to help her out,” Lara said.
Just like most 8th-grade girls, Lara and her best friend, Jailee Zavala love to just hang out and talk, watch TV and make dance videos.
“We have a lot of fun just hanging out. We don’t go anywhere. We just hang out at each other’s houses. We laugh and cut up and that’s what I love about her, I can simply be me. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not.”
This fall Lara will be cheering on the Lockney Junior High School cheer squad for a second year. She also is looking forward to getting back to school to see her teachers. Distance learning, she said, has been a challenge.
“I’m just looking forward to things being like they use to be before we had to home school,” she said.
Lara strives to be a great example to the younger girls in her local town who watch her on the football field or follow her on Instagram. She maintains high grades in school and wants to be a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) doctor. Lara said she loves children and has a true desire to help babies who came into the world struggling to survive.
“If I could give all the young girls a piece of advice, I’d tell them don’t let anything stop you for achieving what you dream. Dream big and shine like the star you are,” Lara said.
The daughter of Michael and Vanessa Lara of Lockney, she has two older brothers, 17-year-old Miguel and 15-year-old Johnathan and younger sister, 6-year-old Aryannah.
In October, Aryannah will take part in the Dance Masters competion. She will be performing “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” And Aryannah might just a have a secret weapon, she has her older sister to help her with every step she takes.