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Get to know Miss Latina Racine 2023, and why she cares so much about mental health

The Journal Times - 11/12/2022

Nov. 12—CALEDONIA — A new Miss Latina Racine has been named after two-year Hiatus.

Margarita Reyes-Pena was the winner of the title of 2023 Miss Latina Racine in a title ceremony held Friday at Franksville Memorial Hall, 9416 Northwestern Ave., Caledonia. Reyes-Pena is a senior at St. Catherine's High School, and looking into going into psychology and eventually law after she graduates.

The second-born of two immigrants from Mexico, Reyes-Pena stated she wanted to be a voice for the immigrants in the U.S., mentioning how they help run the country by doing the jobs few others want to do.

"Immigrants are the backbone of this country," Reyes-Pena said. "They do a lot of things for us that we don't realize... I want to be able to be a voice for them and speak for them and help them. Because I believe that they deserve the benefits in the United States like we U.S. citizens do."

In her speech, Reyes-Pena also talked about how her older sister and younger brother both had mental disorders, leaving her to feel like the only "normal" or "healthy" child in her family. That created a poor self-image about herself, in a way taking on the role of the oldest child and being almost like a third parent in her family.

She also spoke about her platform for Latino mental health to the crowd of about 60.

"Many (Latinos) have been told to believe that their mental health isn't a top priority, and it's for rich white people who just have no idea what to do with their money," Reyes-Pena said. "Latinos make approximately 18.5 percent of the population in the United States and at least 16 percent of those in the Latino community are found to be diagnosed with mental illness."

Miss Latina Racine is a scholarship title like Miss Racine, but is wholly localized within Racine County whereas Miss Racine is a part of Miss America. The event was first put together in 1998 by a group of Latina women Racine who wanted to encourage young Latina women to pursue higher education.

The event was put on hold for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, having no recipients in 2021 and 2022.

The current Miss Racine, Maria Jose Castillo, emceed the event. Castillo was the recipient of 2017's Miss Latina Racine. Castillo's time as Miss Racine will end Saturday in a ceremony that will crown 2023's Miss Racine.


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