In her little more than two decades of life, Alyssa Vásquez has faced numerous challenges, from homelessness to surviving sexual assault and domestic violence to being questioned about her identity.
Yet, the 22-year-old Miss Silicon Valley refuses to let others define her.
“I do not allow these experiences to define me nor dictate how I live my life,” said Vásquez, who was Miss Napa Valley in 2017. “I have never allowed the tough times get the best of me.
“I have prospered. I have achieved. I have never looked back. Call me thick-skinned, tough, strong, etc., but I am resilient.”
That drive was most likely instilled by her mother, Anastasia, who has been a delivery nurse for 15 years and is on target to get her A.A. degree in July.
“My mom came from México when she was 7 years old with my grandpa and youngest brother to take care of her brother,” said Vásquez.
The group, however, was detained at the border before eventually being allowed to continue and get a visa.
Eventually, the other siblings followed.
Her father, Ulises Vásquez, works for a winery in Napa Valley.
Vásquez wants to get a masters in nursing and become a nurse practitioner.
Her social impact initiative is a campaign to stop sexual assault and domestic violence. Her own experience as a victim fuels her passion to help others.
When she became a volunteer with San Francisco Women Against Rape, she would answer the hotline and the calls would trigger certain memories in her.
“My healing is when I speak about it, educating others,” said Vásquez.
Sexual assault and domestic violence are “definitely still a problem,” she said. The Me Too movement shed some light into the severity of the issue, said Vásquez.
“As a survivor, it is really important for others to know how constant it is,” said Vásquez. “People think I would have a chip on my shoulder.”
Although Vásquez is a veteran at the Miss California Competition, she realizes there have been changes. For example, the swimsuit is no longer part of the competition.
“It’s completely different,” she said. “It’s a lot easier for me this time because I know what will happen, and how Miss California week works.”
Two years ago, she was “overwhelmed.”
“I had never been introduced to that world ever. I had never been with so many girls before my entire life trying to progress and so intelligent,” said Vásquez, who will perform the opera classic ‘Di Tale Amor’ for her talent.
“I’ve been singing since I was 7,” said Vásquez.
Even then, people would tell her she wasn’t that good. Vásquez continued her singing, and even taught her own choir class in high school.
“I really love performing,” said Vásquez, who hopes to inspire other Latinas to give the Miss California organization a try.
Meet Miss Silicon Valley Alyssa Vásquez
Education: Majoring in kinesiology at San Francisco State.
Family: Parents Ulises and Anastasia Vásquez, three sisters
Talent: Vocal of the opera song ‘Di Tale Amor’
Social impact initiative: NO MORE campaign to end sexual assault and domestic violence
Interesting facts: Was cast in a Netflix film; sold livestock to pay for college; taught her own choir class in high school.
Pageant schedule: Wednesday interview, onstage interview and evening wear; Thursday talent.