Video: Miss Vietnam Florida 2015, Nhatvy Vo, competing in the traditional dress, evening gown, question and answer, and talent portions of the pageant. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future
Out of 14 young Vietnamese-American women, one reigned supreme at the 2015 Miss Vietnam Florida pageant Sunday. That woman was UCF student Nhatvy Vo.
"This is my first pageant ever. It feels incredible. There aren't any words to explain it," said Nhatvy, a junior health sciences pre-clinical major, as she was handed bouquets of flowers on stage.
Now as Miss Vietnam Florida, Nhatvy, a member of UCF's Vietnamese-American Student Association, will have to take on responsibilities and duties such as supporting the community and being a contestant coordinator for the following year.
Nhatvy said she participated to bring cultural awareness for Vietnamese living in Florida and to better herself.
"I wanted to be tied back to my roots, boost my confidence and meet new friends," she said. "I believe this experience will help me with my grace, social fluent skills, poise and future."
The contestants are judged by the past queens and sponsors in four competitions that are worth 25 points each: their traditional dresses (ao dai), a question round during which the questions and answers are preferably spoken in Vietnamese, their talent and their evening gowns.
There's one winner, the queen, and four runners-up, who make up the queen's court.
For the past two months, some of the women learned to play instruments they'd never touched, walk in high heels for the first time and spoke their native language to bring honor to their families in the 19-year-old pageant.
"I've never played before. I've learned one song in four weeks," said Tina Vo, a junior in health services and administration, who played the piano as her talent.
She was a runner-up and contestant No. 13.
"[My parents] always wanted me to do it since I was 18," Tina said. "When the application opened this year, I signed up. I know this is an once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Though Nhatvy walked away with the crown and a title, she also walked away with a sisterhood.
"It's just natural for us to support each other. I haven't known these girls for a month and we're such good friends now. We're a family," Nhatvy said.
In order to apply for Miss Vietnam, a potential contestant must be enrolled in either high school or college, be at least 16 years old, be at least a quarter Vietnamese, must never have been married and can never have been pregnant, according to the Miss Florida Pageant online application.
Veronica Brezina is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.