Fresno County pageants will have familiar faces in the 2019 field

Miss Fresno County contestants Jessica Cooke and Kara Durán join Miss Fresno County Outstanding Teen hopefuls Jennifer Beaton and Faith González along with pageant director Marie Theurich.
Miss Fresno County contestants Jessica Cooke and Kara Durán join Miss Fresno County Outstanding Teen hopefuls Jennifer Beaton and Faith González along with pageant director Marie Theurich.

The stage for Saturday night’s (March 9) Miss Fresno County and Miss Fresno County Outstanding Teen pageants won’t be foreign for Kara Durán or Jennifer Beaton.

That’s because they have competed in the local pageant before: Durán won the teen title in 2017, the same year that Beaton competed in the teen event.

This time, Durán will be among the Miss Fresno County hopefuls; and Beaton will be in the teen pageant.

Saturday’s pageant will be held at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium, with the program starting at 7 p.m. The winners advance to the state pageant at the Saroyan Theatre in late June.

Here is a look at the Latina contestants:

▪ Durán, an 18-year-old freshman at Fresno State, said the previous pageant experience “opened doors” for her.

“I met so many people, and I stepped out of my comfort zone,” said Durán, a kinesiology major who hopes to become a pediatric oncologist. “You can achieve your dreams.”

Durán, whose mother died in 2008 from cancer, is the daughter of Eddie Durán. She has a 22-year-old brother, Nate.

Returning to the pageant is different, she said.

“There’s a lot more pressure because I was Miss Teen before,” said Durán. “I’m expected to be just as good. The girls are amazing.”

Durán volunteers at Valley Children’s Hospital. Her platform is Patient Pals Volunteer at Valley Children’s Hospital.

She has been interested in going into the medical field ever since spending time at the hospital when her mother was ill.

“As a 4-year-old, I said, ‘I want to be a oncologist,’” said Durán.

For her talent, she will perform a lyrical dance.

▪ Jessica Cooke, an 18-year-old sophomore at Clovis Community College, is a psychology major who graduated from Clovis High in 2018.

She entered the local pageant because she is friends with Miss Fresno County 2017 Hannah Houck. “Her family got me interested,” said Cooke.

Her mother, Johann Cooke, is a native of Nicaragua who is a licensed clinical social worker. Her father, Justin Cooke, who died from a cardiac arrest, was a social worker. She has two older sisters.

This will be Cooke’s first pageant.

“This has all been so new for me,” said Cooke, who has learned how to balance college studies, pageant preparation and her work as a college ambassador.

Her platform is Project Semi Colon, which promotes suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

“I struggled after my dad’s death two years ago, but I was able to overcome that,” said Cooke. “There are so many people who don’t understand the huge role mental health plays in our lives.”

Her talent will be a jazz dance to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’

▪ Beaton, a 16-year-old junior at Clovis North High, is the daughter of Lorelie and Joseph Beaton. Her mother works for Fresno County and her father is a laboratory worker at a local hospital.

“My mom wanted me to gain my confidence,” said Beaton about taking part in the pageant. “It’s a good confidence booster.”

Beaton hopes to go into the medical field and go into pediatrics, veterinary practice or pathology as a coroner. She has a younger brother.

Her platform is ‘Children in Broken Homes,’ an effort to help children recuperate from their parents’ divorce.

“It’s a personal thing for me,” she said. “I want to shed some light in that divorce can really affect children. They put on a mask every day (but) they need someone to talk to.”

For her talent, Beaton will perform a traditional Tahitian dance.

▪ Faith González will bring some pageant experience with her: She competed in the Miss Desert Hills Outstanding Teen two weekends ago.

“I’ve always wanted to be in a pageant since I was little,” said the 15-year-old freshman at Sunnyside High School.

Her mother, Lydia, an AP psych teacher at Sunnyside, encouraged her to enter the pageant. Her father, Valentin González, works in construction. She has an older brother and a younger sister.

Competing in Desert Hills was to prepare for Fresno. “I really needed that experience,” she said. “Now I know what happens and what to expect.”

Her platform is ‘Confidence Building a Positive Mind Set.’ “At Sunnyside High, I see a lot of individuals that lack confidence. I want to do something good for Sunnyside High.”

Her talent will be a lyrical dance to ‘Run’ by Nicole Scherzinger.