The Hispanic Awareness Student Association (HASA) at St. Gregory’s University crowned Catalina Melo the new Miss HASA SGU at its second annual pageant.
Contestants competed in a series of events that included presenting a personal introduction, modeling contemporary clothing, a talent segment, an impromptu question and answer session and giving a personal address.
Melo, a junior Psychology major, said she entered the pageant because she likes to be involved in situations that help her show the world the richness of her Colombian heritage and how it differs from that of other Hispanic cultures.
“I want to help to change the mentality that being Hispanic simply means being Mexican,” Melo said. “I get asked if I am Mexican a lot. I love Mexico, but I want others to know that it is just one country among the many others.”
Melo hopes her role as Miss HASA will give her the chance to show others that while Latin American countries may speak Spanish, each has its own unique culture, character and use of the language that sets it apart from the others.
“I hope I can help others learn much more about our cultures,” Melo said of being Miss HASA. “It’s not so much, ‘I’m Miss HASA, look at me!’ It’s more what I can give to others.”
It was a sentiment shared by 2012 Miss HASA, Gabriela Weigel, as she passed the title on to Melo.
“Last year was the first Miss HASA pageant at St. Gregory’s,” said Weigel, a History/Pre-Law junior. “It was exciting to see that people were enthusiastic about it still, to see that people were picking up the tradition and carrying it on. It’s something that’s going to continue, so it’s exciting for me to see that what we did last year had an impact on the school and will continue to grow as the school grows.”
Weigel, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in the 1960s, joined HASA to reconnect to the cultural traditions they had left behind, but she found that through Miss HASA, she could have a positive impact not only on the students at St. Gregory’s but in the community at large, as well. She believes that Melo is well-equipped to carry the group forward.
“Catalina is coming from Colombia and bringing her traditions with her,” Weigel said. “I think she comes from the heart of Latin America, and she can really share her traditions. Latin American is really a diverse family of cultures, so her being Colombian really lets her shine in a whole different way and lets her show that there is more to the Hispanic culture that just the Mexican culture that everyone is familiar with in Oklahoma.”
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