[StBernard] Miss Louisiana Honored By Parish Council
westley at da-parish.com
Tue Mar 21 00:17:39 EST 2006
Miss Louisiana Honored By Parish Council
March 20 , 2006
By: Steve Cannizaro
Chalmette woman feels hurricane gave her the mettle to become Miss Louisiana
USA; will be proclaimed an honored citizen Tuesday by Parish Council
Christina Cuenca of Chalmette knows what it means to be persistent.
Cuenca, 26, a 1997 graduate of Archbishop Hannan High School, competed six
straight years for the Miss Louisiana USA title before taking the crown in
Lafayette on Jan. 22.
And in a way, she said, Hurricane Katrina may have had something to do with
her winning this year.
It flooded her family's home on Dauterive Drive with 13 feet of water and
ruined many of her belongings included wardrobe in a house in Arabi where
she was living.
"Maybe I had a cause as a survivor of Katrina,'' she said. "I think the
hurricane gave me the fire I needed.''
Now she goes on to the Miss USA Pageant in Baltimore on April 21, which will
air on the NBC Network, and if she wins would then compete for Miss
Cuenca, who has been traveling the state since winning her title, including
a visit to Chalmette in February, will be back here on Tuesday to be
proclaimed an honored citizen by the St. Bernard Parish Council.
When not in California, where she has taken acting lessons and appeared in
some music videos and commercials after Hurricane Katrina, she has been
living in Uptown New Orleans with her parents, Mack and Sue, and other
She said she got interested in pageants after she competed in the St.
Bernard Junior Miss scholarship pageant as a teen-ager. "It got me on stage
speaking and I thought I was good at it.''
She didn't think much about entering the Miss Louisiana USA Pageant when an
application first came to her when she was in college. It was her mother who
told her she should take a chance.
"I competed every year for six years,'' winning two preliminaries and once
finishing first runner-up, Cuenca said. When Katrina struck, the family
first went to Florida but she ended up in California at a relative's home
and was working some as an actress. She has also appeared in Shine
Productions in St. Bernard.
"I looked at he brighter side'' of her situation and tried to move on, she
said but "the whole time I was thinking about the pageant'' and making
another run at the Miss Louisiana USA title because she had so much
experience that was in her favor.
During the event, which she consisted of interviews with judges as well as
evening gown and swimsuit competition, she felt the interview sessions were
her strongest point,
"They ask you questions like 'what do you think is deeper, your thoughts or
the sea?''' Cuenca said. "My answer to that one was, "you can measure the
sea but there is no limit to what is inside your head.''
"I wasn't shocked'' when they called her name as the winner, she said. "But
I exhaled. I said to myself, 'OK it's my year.'''
So far in her resign she has visited some schools and made other personal
"I share my experiences, a story of getting over (the hurricane and its
aftermath), moving on and making something good out of something bad.''
She said her heart is still in St. Bernard, where her parents intend to move
back one day, and feels the parish is moving forward.
"When I got to the parish, I felt like things were happening. It was good to
see the people there doing things themselves. There's something about us.''
But she said most of her friends from St. Bernard have scattered while
waiting on FEMA trailers.
As for the Miss USA Pageant in a month, she has been shopping for clothes
and getting her self mentally prepared to do deal with judges and the
"I feel like my chances are pretty good. I have a lot of experience'' in
pageants and that helps with composure. "You learn how to establish a
rapport with judges. You learn to deal with each type of judge,'' Cuenca
"I just want to go completely prepared so I can enjoy myself.''
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