When most people think of beauty pageants, bleached blonde hair, fake orange tans, contrived speeches, superficiality and blinding white smiles are just some of the stereotypes that may come to mind.
However, these people probably have not met University of La Verne freshman Ginna E. Escobar, the reigning Miss Pomona.
Escobar does display the necessary traits that transform an everyday pageant contestant into a beauty queen. She is an extrovert who could probably strike up a lively conversation with almost anyone she meets. She is involved in a variety of activities, ranging from singing to karate. She is not only attractive and funny, but also intelligent and driven.
University of La Verne freshman Ginna Escobar wears two crowns, one as Miss Pomona and one as Miss Ecuadorian American Chamber of Commerce, a title she has held since 2004. Beyond these titles she holds a black belt in karate, is a member of the ULV varsity debate team and is on the La Verne dance team. Escobar plans to attend University of Southern California’s film school after graduating from La Verne. After completing graduate school she hopes to attend Pepperdine’s School of Law.
Unlike the beauty queen cliché, there is genuineness about Escobar that makes her actually likeable. She has a best friend type of feel that enables others in her presence to feel both welcomed and comfortable, as if they had known her for years.
Escobar’s parents, Cesar and Ginna, first encouraged her to enter pageants.
“They didn’t force me to do it,” Escobar said. “So when they mentioned it, I looked at the pros and cons and decided why not?”
As a Pomona Catholic High School senior at the time, Escobar submitted a Miss Pomona application, which listed her grades, extracurricular activities and talents.
Escobar said that 88 girls initially applied in February. The number was then whittled down to the final three after a series of callbacks and interviews with a panel of judges, organized by the city’s Community Service Department.
On April 8, after the four-week interview process, the top three competed at the final pageant, which included an essay, talent and formalwear competition.
“I was nervous,” Escobar said. “I cannot tell you how many times I blow-dried my hair, redid my makeup and changed my clothes that day.”
Escobar distinctly remembers the moments leading up to her victory.
“I just performed ‘Baby I’m a Star’ by Prince and I had a really quick dress change before they announced the winner,” Escobar said. “I had a good vibe and I felt a gust of wind in the closed room. Then there was a long pause and my name was announced.”
Escobar has a laundry list of activities and responsibilities as Miss Pomona. Along with her court, she is required to attend all the Pomona community events. In addition, she has visited various hospitals, convalescent homes and children centers in the area.
Her favorite memory as Miss Pomona so far was participating in the L.A. County Fair festivities last month.
“I’ve been going to the fair since I was months old,” Escobar said. “This year I got to open the fair and be in the parade. It was filmed by seven or eight channels and mentioned everywhere.”
Miss Pomona is not Escobar’s only beauty queen title. She was also crowned Miss Ecuadorian American Chamber of Commerce for the past two years.
Although Escobar said this particular title is not as time-consuming as Miss Pomona, it ?is still quite an honor for her as an Ecuadorian American.
“It’s nice because I am representing the Ecuadorian population in all of Los Angeles County,” Escobar said.
As if Escobar was not busy enough, she is currently a double major in legal studies and women’s studies with a minor in theatre with an emphasis in directing.
Escobar is also a member of the ULV varsity debate team, a rare achievement for a freshman.
"I think Ginna is a good fit for ULV,” said Eric Bishop, associate dean of academic support. “ She is active and wants to be involved on campus. She is civic minded and already contributing to her community. I know that she has always wanted to come here, and so she made it to her first choice."
Escobar is also a talented singer and dancer, a passion she has had since the age of two. She has lived and performed in New York City, Paris and Las Vegas with various theatre companies.
In 2004, Escobar traveled to Abbey Road studios in London, where she recorded an album with the Claremont-based theatre group, Carousel Kids, and the London Symphony.
“We would record two seconds of music like 55 times just to get the right pitch,” Escobar said. “But it was cool because I am able to say that I recorded in the same studio as the Beatles.”
This ULV student, beauty queen, performer and world traveler is also a fourth degree black belt in karate, a pastime she acquired in 2001.
With all these experiences under her belt, Escobar has big plans for her future. Ultimately, Escobar would like to pursue a career in the entertainment field, possibly singing, dancing, acting or directing. However, she is also interested in becoming a lawyer to defend helpless children and battered women.
“Ginna is a special student who seems to have the limitless potential to do really great things in her life,” debate coach Ian Lising said. “She has an infectious spirit that motivates everyone around her.”
Tracy Spicer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.