Miss New Mexico USA 2018 Kristen Leyva, left, reacts afterwards acceptable the celebration captivated at Oñate Aerial Academy on Sunday, January 28, 2018.(Photo: Robin Zielinski / Sun-News)Buy Photo
LAS CRUCES – A Las Cruces automated architect was crowned Miss New Mexico USA in a statewide celebration captivated afresh at Oñate Aerial School. And she hopes to use the role to affect children, abnormally girls, to become engineers and scientists.
Kristen Leyva, 23, was built-in and aloft in Las Cruces, accessory Desert Hills Elementary, Camino Real Middle Academy and Oñate High. Her mother was a distinct ancestor who became a automated engineer, and, in accomplishing so, aggressive her babe to accompany the aforementioned career.
Leyva recalls accepting a “persistent curiosity” as a adolescent that got her into agitation already aback she dismantled the ancestors computer in hopes of award out how it worked.
Her mother formed as an architect for NASA on White Sands Missile Range. And, acquainted her daughter’s absorption in science, autonomous to booty her to assignment on an important day: the barrage of a aggregation vehicle for the International Space Station. Leyva said she saw her mom as a “rock star” that day and capital to be like her.
After admission from aerial academy in 2012, she autonomous to appear New Mexico Accompaniment University, area her mother had attended, because she anticipation it was a aerial affection program. And, accepting a abutting band with her mother and earlier sister, she capital to breach abutting to home.
Leyva’s mother, Jo Leyva, had sometimes taken her daughters to the NMSU campus aback she didn’t accept a babysitter. They’d stay in a adjacent classroom while their mom’s chic took place. Kristen Leyva said it was aberrant abiding to the aforementioned barrio years later, this time as the student.
Kristen Leyva said the automated engineering affairs was challenging. But another challenge arose forth the way: Her mother, Jo Leyva, began a action with colon cancer. In her inferior and chief years, Kristen Leyva helped to affliction for her mom, in accession to bamboozlement academy and work.
Unfortunately, Jo Leyva died two months shy of her daughter’s graduation from NMSU in December 2016. It was a difficult loss, and for months after, Kristen Leyva said she abhorred account her mom’s obituary. Aback she assuredly did apprehend it, she noticed that one of the highlights was her mother’s absorption in advertisement the acreage of engineering amid adolescent students. In account of her mom, Kristen Leyva absitively to booty on the aforementioned mantle.
“I capital to be the aforementioned affectionate of role archetypal she was for me,” Kristen Leyva said.
Miss New Mexico USA 2018 Kristen Leyva, left, reacts as Miss New Mexico USA 2017 Ashley Mora, congratulates her at the cessation of the celebration captivated at Oñate Aerial Academy on Sunday, January 28, 2018. (Photo: Robin Zielinski / Sun-News)
Soon, Kristen Leyva had developed the #JustOne program, a advertence to the abstraction that it takes aloof one role archetypal or coach to affect a apprentice to accompany a career in science, technology, engineering or algebraic — STEM. Though the project took a while to get off the ground, Kristen Leyva began visiting New Mexico classrooms to allocution about STEM. She works with anniversary abecedary to advance the presentation and tie it into what acceptance are learning. She doesn’t allegation schools for the presentations or any abstracts she uses. Sometimes she has agitated out science experiments.
She hopes girls in accurate will booty notice. She said she wants to accelerate the message: “There’s no such affair as a barrier to advancing a amount in engineering or a amount in science.”
Kristen Levya said aback she started her amount affairs at NMSU, there were about 30 women alongside her. But by the time she graduated, she was one of two. She thinks added women would accompany the acreage and stick with it if there were added changeable advisers to animate them forth the way.
Kristen Leyva works for Raytheon, a architect for WSMR. And she said there are a lot of STEM jobs in New Mexico, article students might not realize.
“If we advance STEM in the schools, we’re additionally gearing up our abutting bearing to booty over in New Mexico,” she said.
More: Las Crucen Taylor Rey alcove final circuit of Miss America pageant
Leyva said she entered her aboriginal celebration at the age of 19. She anticipation it would be a acceptable way to besom up on her account skills, alive that’s article bare in the workforce. Afterwards that, she didn’t attempt for a few years because she was active allowance her mother.
More recently, Leyva began to see the Miss New Mexico USA challenge as a way to addition the drive for her efforts to advance STEM. Last weekend’s accident was the aboriginal celebration Leyva competed in aback her mom’s afterlife in 2016. Aback the advertisement was fabricated that she’d won, she said she accomplished a “flood of emotions,” apprenticed in allotment by her mother’s absence and her own achievement of continuing her mom’s legacy.
“It’s occurred to me: I accept become my mother’s daughter,” she said. “I anticipate I would accept had that moment whether I had won or whether I hadn’t.”
Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima said Leyva, as an architect and alum of NMSU, will be a “fantastic role archetypal for our adolescence and adolescent adults.”
“We’re especially proud she’s from Las Cruces,” he said. “I’m additionally blessed to apprehend she’s going to allocution about STEM because I believe that’s the approaching and direction of area the country is going, the abridgement is going.”
Miss Billy The Kid USA Kristen Leyva answers the catechism allocation of Miss New Mexico USA 2018 with Master of Ceremony Albert Soliz captivated at Oñate Aerial Academy in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Sunday January, 28 2018. (Photo: Robin Zielinski / Sun-News)
The date and area for the Miss USA antagonism haven’t been set. But Leyva will be the state’s representative. She wants to flash a spotlight on the accompaniment and additionally breach stereotypes about changeable roles.
“It’s OK to be both — It’s OK to be Miss NM USA, and it’s OK to be an engineer,” she said.
Leyva is advancing a master’s amount in automated engineering at NMSU. She’d like to acquire a doctorate and become a assistant who’ll focus on mentoring women in the engineering profession.
“I adulation actuality in the classroom,” she said. “I anticipate that affectionate of role is added acknowledged than any actual success I’ll anytime achieve.”
Leyva said she calls New Mexico home, and admitting she eventually ability move to addition abode temporarily, she’ll wind up aback in the accompaniment in the long-run.
So, what’s Leyva’s acknowledgment to the official accompaniment question?
“Christmas,” she said.
More: Miss New Mexico performs in ‘She Said, She Said’ at Boba
Leyva becomes the additional ascendant accompaniment celebration holder to barrage from Las Cruces.
In June 2017, Las Crucen Taylor Rey was crowned Miss New Mexico as allotment of a altered celebration organization. It’s a year-long role. Rey reached the top 15 annular of the 2018 Miss America celebration in September 2017.
Diana Alba Soular may be accomplished at 575-541-5443, email@example.com or @AlbaSoular on Twitter.
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