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Miss Albuquerque crowned 2016 Miss New Mexico

Miss Albuquerque Stephanie Chavez, 23, was crowned Miss New Mexico on Saturday evening on the final night of the 75th Annual Miss New Mexico Pageant.

“It’s such a blur,” said Chavez. “I know it’s such a clich√© when I say it’s such a surreal feeling, but it really is.”

Chavez performed the song “That’s Life,” originally by Frank Sinatra, for the talent portion of the pageant.

Her platform is titled “Stephanie’s Ponytail: How I Learned to Read — Children’s Literacy.”

When asked about how the next president of the U.S. should address immigration, as part of the on-stage question contest, Chavez said that Americans should remain open.

“Keep in mind that America was founded on immigration,” said Chavez, also commenting that immigrants should enter legally with pride to becoming an American citizen.

Chavez said she has been working towards earning Miss New Mexico for six years.

“I’m so excited it finally happened,” said Chavez. “Hard work really pays off. I’m truly honored to be standing here right now.”

Chavez also shared some advice to future pageant contestants. “Do not give up if you don’t win your second, third, fourth or fifth year,” said Chavez. “Be persistent on pursuing your dream.”

Chavez won a $5,000 scholarship as part of her winnings and will be competing at the Miss America pageant on Sept. 11.

1993 Miss New Mexico pageant winner Sharron Melton hosted the concluding ceremony.

“It is my turn to give back, because somebody once did it for me,” said Melton during the ceremony, reflecting on her experiences as a contestant. “Those titles don’t go away. The responsibilities don’t go away.”

Last year’s Miss New Mexico winner Marissa Livingston was also part of the ceremony, commenting on her own learning experiences while speaking on behalf of the contestants.

“I know I can do it,” said Livingston. “It’s just going to take time and perseverance.”

The four runners-up for Miss New Mexico were Miss Duke City Ashley Fresquez, 21, Miss Central New Mexico Amelia Linde, 22, Miss Otero County Brandi Blair, 22, and Miss Rio Rancho Elizabeth Nelson, 22.

In addition to being second runner-up, Linde won the Miss America Community Service Award.

Rounding out the top 10 finalists were Miss Sandoval County Chanel Wiese, 24, Miss Bernalillo County Brooke Ayala, 21, Miss Northern New Mexico Morgan Kennedy, 22, Miss Las Cruces Faith Annelies Cortez, 24, and Miss Hobbs Kagan Massey, 25.

Miss Roosevelt County Kathryn Kincheloe, 19, won Miss Congeniality. Miss Lea County Kaci Benge, 19, won the New Mexico Miracle Maker award for raising the most money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Scholarships were awarded to the top 10 contestants. Fresquez won $4,000; Linde won $3,000; Blair won $2,000, and Nelson won $1,000, with all others on the top 10 winning $500.

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©2016 The Portales News-Tribune (Clovis, N.M.)

Visit The Portales News-Tribune (Clovis, N.M.) at www.pntonline.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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