Pan­toja Con­tin­ues Com­pet­i­tive Streak

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By AU­TUMN NEAL Times Cor­re­spon­dent

Daisy Pan­toja, re­cent EHS grad­u­ate, started her ca­reer in pageantry with the Miss Escalon com­pe­ti­tion of 2016, earn­ing the ti­tle of sec­ond run­ner-up. She re­cently par­tic­i­pated in the Cal­i­for­nia State Schol­ar­ship Com­pe­ti­tion, walk­ing away with a state fi­nal­ist ti­tle.

The lat­ter com­pe­ti­tion was held in Santa Cruz, and girls com­peted for the ul­ti­mate Miss Cal­i­for­nia State ti­tle. The pro­gram, run by Youth Fo­cus Inc., is not di­rectly af­fil­i­ated with the Miss Cal­i­for­nia USA com­pe­ti­tion.

Dur­ing the Miss Escalon 2016 com­pe­ti­tion, di­rec­tor of the Miss Cal­i­for­nia State com­pe­ti­tion, Kristina Stam­per vis­ited the can­di­dates and taught them walk­ing tech­niques to hold a bet­ter stage pres­ence. Later, Stam­per re­cruited Pan­toja to join Miss Cal­i­for­nia State this July.

“I was in­ter­ested, but it was a lot of money to join,” Pan­toja said.

Luck­ily, her com­mu­nity was able to come to­gether and she was soon sup­ported by sev­eral spon­sors.

Pan­toja trav­eled from Escalon to the Santa Cruz Con­ven­tion Cen­ter from July 10-15. Com­peti­tors came from as far as San Diego and Los Angeles.

“When I got there, it was so crazy,” she said. She and 10 other young women, ages 17 to 24, all be­came close over the next six days through their time spent to­gether.

Pan­toja ad­mit­ted, “Ev­ery­one is so friendly and kind. The last day we all started cry­ing. Even though it’s a com­pe­ti­tion, you still make

that bond.”

The week was full of work­shops and ac­tiv­i­ties. The first day, the young women trav­eled to Great Amer­ica and bonded with one an­other dur­ing their visit. The rest of the week was ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing tal­ent skills, lead­er­ship, and de­vel­op­ing public speak­ing abil­i­ties.

Part of the com­pe­ti­tion in­cluded an ad­vo­cacy speech, and the sub­ject of Pan­toja’s speech was a sur­pris­ing one: de­pres­sion. She shared that she had strug­gled with the con­di­tion and was fa­mil­iar with it. She said that she pre­pared by do­ing, “a lot of re­search on my own self.”

Along with speak­ing, she cre­ated a three-minute video about de­pres­sion and how it made her feel in or­der to raise aware­ness.

A por­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion that she was notably ner­vous for was the ‘fish­bowl’ ques­tion, where can­di­dates are asked a ques­tion at random. Pan­toja’s ques­tion asked how she had been in­volved with ef­forts to go green. She noted that she had said “go­ing green” was im­por­tant to her on her ap­pli­ca­tion for the Miss Cal­i­for­nia State com­pe­ti­tion and was able to an­swer with the ac­tiv­i­ties she’d par­tic­i­pated in: beach cleanups in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.

Her tal­ent was a mix­ture of dance and cheer. Though she was also struck by nerves dur­ing her per­for­mance, she was able to keep up by the end of the dance.

When all was said and done, Pan­toja laughed and re­vealed that “it may seem re­ally cheesy” but she ul­ti­mately found out the most im­por­tant les­son is “to learn to love your­self.”

She noted that the com­pe­ti­tion was a lot of work, but she’d rec­om­mend it to any­one who’s in­ter­ested in try­ing it.

Pan­toja is now pre­par­ing for her next com­pe­ti­tion-the Reinas de las Fi­es­tas Pa­trias (the Queen of the Civic Fes­ti­val), which re­volves around Mex­i­can cul­ture. She at­tends prac­tices in Sacramento on Satur­days and will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the beauty pageant Sept. 2.

Daisy Pan­toja (left) poses with Miss Cal­i­for­nia State ti­tle-holder Ju­dith Clay­ton (right) of Or­ange County af­ter the com­pe­ti­tion.

Pan­toja proudly sported her Escalon Cougars jersey and pom poms while per­form­ing dur­ing the tal­ent por­tion.

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