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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Miss Indian Arizona attributes crown to community

Savannah Douglas

Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat

Alyssa Garcia is currently attending the University of Arizona after winning the Miss Indian Arizona scholarship. Garcia is a member of the Ak-Chin Indian Community and won her scholarship based on tribe knowledge and public speaking abilities.

UA pre-physiology freshman Alyssa Garcia was crowned Miss Indian Arizona on Oct. 12, an achievement that she credits in large part to her community.

Garcia became the first Ak-Chin Indian community member to participate in the Miss Indian Scholarship Program. Although Garcia said she put a great deal of time and effort into preparing for the pageant, she was still shocked when she found out she won the crown.

“I was so surprised when they said my number; it didn’t really hit me until they said my name,” Garcia said. “I was overwhelmed with happiness, not only for all the hard work that I put in, but the hard work my community put in.”

Garcia said her community, which is located in Santa Cruz Valley, 58 miles south of Phoenix, has been there for her in many ways, by teaching her tribal song and dance and also attending the competition for moral support. She said the community members have been so instrumental in the process that she credits them as one of the major reasons she won.

Pageant contestants had to fill out an application, write multiple essays, get letters of recommendation and letters of verification and perform community service. In the competition, contestants modeled evening wear and traditional dress, participated in a talent portion and gave an oral presentation. The community service portion came naturally to Garcia, who said she believes community involvement and giving back are incredibly important.

Garcia’s aunt Yolanda Miranda, a truant officer for the Ak-Chin community, said she is proud of Garcia’s involvement and her niece’s pageant win.

“She’s involved in a lot of things,” Miranda said. “We are a tiny community, but she put us on the map. I’m just so proud of her.”

Now that she has won Miss Indian Arizona, Garcia will serve as an ambassador for all Arizona tribes, traveling to Arizona Indian reservations and making special appearances at a variety of events.

“Right now, I’m going to different communities to support the other royalties from their pageants. I also attend events and represent them,” Garcia said. “I think I’m booked with events for the next six weekends.”

However, Garcia is no stranger to a busy schedule, as she served as Miss Ak-Chin from 2011-2012 and is currently president of the Ak-Chin Youth Council, where she serves as a voice for the youth in her community. She said she works to encourage education for youth because she feels it is the “key to life.”

Her family has not failed to notice her dedication to academics.

“She was the student I knew was going to be at school, doing her very best,” Miranda said. “Alyssa is a very smart girl. I have no doubt in my mind that whatever her goals are, she’s going to accomplish them.”

Garcia’s intelligence is not lost on the Ak-Chin community tribal council chairman, Louis Manuel, who said Garcia has been receiving high marks in school. He also said he feels Garcia has developed a clear understanding of her community and has become a good representative of the Ak-Chin youth. Garcia spends time with the elders, learning history with them and talking about the community, Manuel added.

Although Garcia’s community service and community involvement captivated the pageant judges, some said her genuine manner is what really won them over.

“She captured my heart from the beginning, in the in-person interview,” said Stacey Roswell, a retired special education teacher and one of five judges for Miss Indian Arizona. “What made Alyssa stand out was she was just so genuine. She’s a lovely person inside and out.”

Another judge, Melanie Sainz, a professional artist and educator, said she also knew Alyssa deserved the crown.

“You just really have to be flexible, knowledgeable and poised, and Alyssa did everything,” Sainz said. “I can just see the connection she had with the people from Ak-Chin. She makes me want to know the Ak-Chin people better.”

Although Garcia is busy with her community involvement, she said she takes her enrollment at the UA very seriously. In addition to her education, she said she plans to focus on her personal attributes as well.

“I want to be a good person and be the best that I can be every day,” Garcia said. “I know that there are people watching me, so I want to be a good example in any situation.

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