On Saturday, January 5th, those sitting in the auditorium at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts were treated to former Miss Santa Clara Melissa Bowling’s singing of the National Anthem. Then audience members met five local ladies competing to be Miss Silicon Valley 2013 and four local teens competing to be Miss Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Teen 2013.
At the end of the afternoon, Crystal Lee was crowned Miss Silicon Valley 2013. Lee is a senior at Stanford University majoring in Human Biology while earning a M.A. in Communication in a coterminal degree program. Glowing with radiance in her strapless ocean blue evening gown, Lee was excited to share her plans for the coming year.
“I’m looking forward to making my dream come true, which is to be Miss California,” Lee says. “This will be my third year competing in Miss California. Last year, I was the first-runner up at the state pageant as Miss South Counties.”
Lee’s platform involves breaking the glass ceiling and inspiring women to be leaders.
“I tutor a lot at my school,” Lee says. “A part of making my platform tangible is to mentor young women. I mentor young women in science, technology, engineering, and math.”
Lee demonstrated her skills in ballet, en pointe, during the talent segment as she smoothly danced to “The Swan,” tugging at heartstrings, as she showed a swan in the final moments of its life.
Other highlights from the Miss Silicon Valley competition included Cyndi-Lou Ashford singing a song accompanied by the beats of a drum and Jessica Munday performing a contemporary dance to the song “Elephant in the Room.” During the on-stage question segment, Kendall Conn shared her thoughts about women in the corporate world, and Selena Vieira expressed that she’s a risk taker who is not afraid of anything.
Tiani Hernandez was crowned Miss Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Teen 2013. After the pageant, the Archbishop Mitty High School junior was grinning from ear to ear in her sea green evening gown, which she referred to as her “Ariel dress.”
Hernandez looks forward to her year as Miss Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Teen so she can promote her platform – staying above the influence of the pressure to be perfect.
“I’d like to spread awareness of how teens have pressure to look like people in magazines with airbrushed skin,” Hernandez says. “In reality, perfection is unattainable. I’d like to call for a day for all teens to not wear makeup at my school.”
Hernandez credits her experience performing in school musicals for helping her establish her stage presence. During the pageant, she showed off her singing voice with “Always True to You” from Kiss Me Kate.
Other highlights from the Miss Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Teen competition included Elaine Fung performing a jumpy ballet dance from Cinderella, Hannah Villalpando gracing the stage in a shimmery silver gown, and Auriona Adefris thoughtfully declaring that a ban on guns can create a black market for them in the response to her on-stage question.
“I gained confidence and new friends [from participating in the competition],” says Elaine Fung, who won the prize for the first-runner up of the teen pageant. “Everyone’s really nice.”
Each contestant in both competitions received a scholarship for their participation in the pageants. According to Mary McCaman, executive director of the Miss Santa Clara Auxiliary, funding offered by the City of Santa Clara was not used to award scholarships for the Miss Silicon Valley competitions. The scholarship money for Miss Silicon Valley came from other sources. To participate in the Miss Silicon Valley/Outstanding Teen competitions, contestants must live, attend school, or work full-time in Santa Clara County.
“I’m excited for all our titleholders,” McCaman says. “With the Miss Silicon Valley titleholders, we hope to expand our appearances beyond the City of Santa Clara.”
2013 Scholarships for Miss Silicon Valley-
Miss Silicon Valley: Crystal Lee, $5,000
First Runner Up: Kendall Conn, $1,000
Non-Finalists: Selena Vieira, Cyndi-Lou Ashford, Jessica Munday, $500 each
Interview: Crystal Lee, $100
Talent: Crystal Lee, $100
Miss Congeniality: Selena Vieira, $100
2013 Scholarships for Miss Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Teen
Miss Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Teen: Tiani Hernandez, $2,000
First Runner Up: Elaine Fung, $500
Non-Finalists: Hannah Villalpando and Auriona Adefris, $200 each
Interview: Hannah Villalpando, $100
Talent: Elaine Fung, $100
Miss Congeniality: Tie between all four contestants, $25 each