Aranda, a sophomore social work major at Southern Arkansas University, has already made arrangements with SAU in case she returns for the fall semester a few days late. Should the Arkansas representative earn another crown as Miss Latina U.S., she will have to stay another week for the Miss Latin America competition.
“I feel like I have a pretty good chance,” said Aranda. “You are your only competition, really. If you do not do well in your interviews, the only one to blame is yourself.”
Aranda knows that the two interviews will be important during the weeklong competitions for Miss Latina U.S. from August 18-24 at Barceló Maya Beach Resort. Throughout the week, the contestants have a full schedule of various activities and competitions, including rehearsals, press conferences, an excursion to Tulum Ruins, swimsuit and evening gown preliminaries, and the final competition Saturday evening.
The contestants are not required to have a platform, according to Aranda, but she has personally become an advocate for education. Since being crowned Miss Arkansas Latina in October of 2012, she has made several appearances representing her title and for her cause.
She recently visited the Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock and brought six backpacks full of school supplies to give away to children in the consulate lobby. Employees at the consulate were happy to help Aranda have an impromptu game show with the kids to see which three boys and three girls were the best at answering questions to win the school supplies.
“I have always liked to help people and have always been involved with community service,” said Aranda.
Her passion for giving back and encouraging education led to her changing her major to social work after her freshman year at SAU. Before that change, she had gone back and forth between three other degree fields.
Aranda said she was inspired while watching 2010 Academy Award Nominee documentary “Which Way Home” about the personal side of immigration through the eyes of children who face harrowing dangers as they endeavor to make it to the U.S. to reconnect with their families and get a good education.
“I asked myself, ‘Who helps these children and others who put their lives in danger to achieve their goals and better lives for themselves and their families?’” Aranda said. “The light went off…or the light came on. I don’t know how, but social work came to my mind and everything pieced together. This is where God wants me to be. This is what God made me for. This is why he made me the way I am.”
Classes at SAU begin August 28, and registration is Aug. 26-27. Should the well-spoken Aranda achieve her goals in Cancun, the University is making residence hall and class arrangements for her delayed return to campus.