Miss Merced County: After 4 years of trying, finally made it to state pageant

Miss Merced County Gaby Muro and Miss Orange Coast Molly Crawford make their way to Fresno City Hall on June 24.
Miss Merced County Gaby Muro and Miss Orange Coast Molly Crawford make their way to Fresno City Hall on June 24.

When she struck out twice in the Miss San Joaquín pageant, Gaby Muro did the next best thing: She became Miss Asparagus for one of Stockton’s biggest festivals.

Last November, standing on stage of the 2019 Miss San Joaquín pageant, the 24-year-old Muro heard her name announced as the winner.

“I’ve been waiting to hear my name called after four years of dedication,” Muro wrote on her Facebook page, “but most importantly I am thankful for the incredible, selfless woman standing beside me.”

She was referring to her mother, Arcelia Gutiérrez, a single mother of seven children who immigrated from México at the age of 18 with no higher than a third-grade education.

Muro remembers filling out some paperwork in high school where she had to indicate the highest education level her parent reached. When an instructor noticed the third-grade level of Muro’s mom, she said, “It will be very hard for you to finish high school, and most likely you will be a dropout.”

That hasn’t been the case.

“My mom raised me very Mexican. She would wake us up to get to school,” said Muro. “She was very strict on us. That’s one of the reasons I was able to finish school.”

Of course, Muro had to do the work, as an epileptic. She was 3 months old when she had her first seizure. Recently, she went an entire month without a seizure.

“I was told I had a type of epilepsy that we have no way of curing,” said Muro, who found a prescription that helps her more.

Many people are unaware of the neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Muro has made epilepsy education her social impact initiative.

In fact, her monologue for the talent portion of the pageant will deal with the disorder.

“I’m working on a children’s book about epilepsy. At school, not many kids knew about seizures, so I decided to write a book,” said Muro, who hopes to have the book completed by the end of the year. She hopes to get drawings by children included in the book.

“I’m usually a dancer for the talent portion, but this time I decided to do a monologue,” said Muro. “Many people with epilepsy do not have a voice. In fact, I did not learn how to fully say the ‘s’ until I was about 16 years old.”

In her drive to get to Miss California, Muro quit her job to focus on pageant preparation.

“I’ve never felt so happy to quit a job which I didn’t feel passionate about,” she said.

That is why it was music to her ears to hear her name called out as Miss Merced.

She was even recipient of the Friendship Award, previously known as Miss Congeniality.

“It was shocking to me because throughout high school I joined many clubs and sports in hopes of making friends,” she said. “I’ve always loved helping others but many times I was told no or that I wasn’t liked.”

Only two weeks after her pageant win, Muro made more friends than she ever did in high school or college.

Muro is always listening to the police scanner because she’s a reporter for

“I quit my job teaching to invest my time in this,” she said. “I’m passionate about local journalism. From a young age, I always knew that I loved getting to know more about people, about certain areas.”

She was active in her community college’s television and radio programs.

Meet Miss Merced County Gaby Muro

Age: 24

Born: Stockton

Education: Majoring in broadcast and electronic communications at San Francisco State University; earned two AA degrees from San Joaquín Delta.

Family: Mother, Arecelia Gutiérrez. Has five sisters and one brother.

Talent: Monologue.

Social impact initiative: Epilepsy awareness

Interesting facts: Sleeps with a police scanner on; became a one-gallon blood donor; is the only vegetarian in her family; if asked to choose a soft drink, will only drink root beer.

Pageant schedule: Wednesday talent; Thursday interview, onstage interview and evening wear.