One of 61 hopefuls will be the new Miss California

FRESNO — The road to the 2013 Miss California Pageant wasn’t an easy one for Izamar Olaguez.The former Miss Kern County (she competed in last year’s Miss California) tried to return by winning a different pageant. Crown holders can’t repeat their titles, so they look for an open pageant to win so that they can return to Fresno.

Olaguez, however, didn’t win her first two pageants.

“I wasn’t going to give up,” said the 21-year-old Bakerfield College student.She won the Miss San Bernardino title to make it to the pageant, which began this week and concludes with the crowning of Leah Cecil’s successor on Saturday (June 29) at the Saroyan Theatre.Olaguez believes the pageant is ready for her.

“I really think California needs a representative who can stand out,” said Olaguez, a mariachi singer who willl perform a Whitney Houston song for her talent. She won the award for best talent among the non-finalists last year.Olaguez joined 60 other Miss California hopefuls last Saturday at Fresno City Hall, where they posed for a group photo and exchanged gifts with city manager Mark Scott.

Other Latina hopefuls include:Miss Blythe, Ariel Ramírez, 18. She attends Palo Verde College.Miss Greater Inland Empire, Danielle Alcántar, 21. She attends Moreno Valley College.Miss Los Ángeles County, Anna Lisa Matías, 23. She graduated from Notre Dame de Namur University.Miss Sierra Nevada, Christina Alcaraz, 24. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she has competed in the pageant in 2011 and 2012.

Miss Tarzana, Gabriela García, 21. She attends the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts.Olaguez said her participation in last year’s pageant changed her life.“It changed me dramatically,” said Olaguez, who said she is more motivated this year.Olaguez, who is in her third year at Bakersfield College, plans to transfer to the American Music and Performing Arts Academy. She performs regularly with mariachis at Bakersfield restaurants.Her platform this year is ‘Knowledge is Power: Promoting Higher Education.’

When she was attending Golden Valley High School in Bakersfield, Olaguez said information about college was scarce. She wants to make sure that today’s students are aware of the resources available for college.

“I’ve gone to Cal State Bakersfield to explain to students how easy it is to find money for college,” said Olaguez, who promotes the website, pageant CEO Robert W. Arnhym explained what will happen over the next few days to the contestants.“During the week, there will be times when I’ll be grumpy,” he said. “I’m grumpy because I want you to be perfect.”Arnhym, who brought the pageant to Fresno from San Diego 21 years ago.“This city has done an amazing job of embracing this program,” said Arnhym.

The pageant began on Tuesday with preliminaries for both the Miss California and Miss California Outstanding Teen pageants. The teen queen will be crowned on Friday night, while the new Miss California will be crowned on Saturday night.

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