San Benito Lifestyle

Hollister student aims to compete in national pageant in Chicago

Miss Teen California Petite Cassandra Dominguez seeks the top title of Miss Teen USA.

Eighteen-year-old Cassandra Dominguez studies biology at Gavilan College. Her fellow students might never suspect that this Hollister resident is also a pageant winner, preparing to represent California in the national finals.

“I started doing regional pageants five years ago and I won a few titles including Miss Congeniality,” Dominguez said. “I also have done two pageants as Miss Cover Girl. This year I was crowned Miss Teen California Petite 2020 and I am hoping to compete in Chicago for Miss Teen USA.”

Photo courtesy of Cassandra Dominguez.
Photo courtesy of Cassandra Dominguez.

Miss California Petite is a pageant organization dedicated to women of “petite beauty 5’6” or less” and serves as the official preliminary for the Teen, Miss, Ms., and Mrs. Petite competitions.

To become Miss Teen California, Dominguez first competed in a regional contest in Fremont, then won her crown in the state finals in San Francisco. She won her title in February.

“There is so much time and work involved,” said her mother Diane Dominguez. “People think it is all about their looks but there is so much more. Of course, there is the modeling but they are expected to do work in the community as well.”

Her platform, in her role as Miss Teen California, is focusing attention on disadvantaged youth, an interest she gained while working with her church. 

“I started to realize how much help our youth needed,” Dominguez said. “I became involved in many community events as a speaker and a mentor.”

COVID-19 has limited her ability to play a bigger role as a pageant winner.

“Since the virus happened,” Dominguez said, “I have not been able to do a lot of the things we would normally do, like personal appearances or giving speeches. But I am trying my best to do what I can.”

Dominguez is working towards competing in the National Finals for Miss Teen USA, to be held in Chicago in March.

“Part of preparing for a pageant is basic things like practicing the walk,” Dominguez said. “But we have to be ready for the questions they might ask us. They ask what we think about things that are going on in the world, like political questions. Most of the questions I have been asked have turned out to be pretty easy. Sometimes it is as simple as, ‘What is your favorite color and why?’”

Usually, the practicing would be done with other contestants, but COVID-19 now limits their personal interaction.

“I do some of the work with my pageant sisters online through Zoom,” Dominguez said. “We help each other get prepared. Questions this time might be something about the virus or the president, but it could also be something about yourself.”

Dominguez has taken to crowdfunding to help pay for her trip to Chicago.

“Our family only has one income and I am a full-time student,” Dominguez said. “My family is down to one income, so I have started a GoFundMe account to try to raise $2,000 and I am hoping to get a sponsor as well.”

Dominguez looks forward to competing in Chicago, which she said will be her last pageant.

“I am hoping to win,” Dominguez said. “I would like to be seen as a good example to young girls everywhere, inspiring them to find projects of their own. Doing these pageants has given me a lot of confidence and I have made good friendships. I recommend pageants to any other girl out there. It is a lifetime experience that they would not regret.”


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.