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

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

CALEDONIA – A new Miss Latina Racine has been named after a two-year hiatus.

Margarita Reyes-Pena won the title of Miss Latina Root 2023 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 plans to go into psychology and possibly law after graduating.

Miss Latina Root 2023 and her family

Miss Latina Root 2023 and her family.

Alex Rodriguez

A hug from mom

Margarita Reyes-Pena, front, is hugged by her mother, Nayla Pena, after Reyes Pena was crowned Miss Latina Root 2023.

Alex Rodriguez

The second-born of two immigrants from Mexico, Reyes-Pena said she wants to be a voice for immigrants in the United States, mentioning how they help lead the country by doing the work that 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, speak for them and help them. Because I believe they deserve the benefits in the United States like us American citizens.

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In her speech, Reyes-Pena also explained how her older sister and younger brother both suffer from mental illness, leaving her feeling like the only “normal” or “healthy” child in her family. This created a bad image of herself, sort of taking on the role of the eldest and being almost like a third parent in her family.

proud father

Jose Luis Reyes-Luna, left, kisses his daughter, new Miss Latina Root Margarita Reyes-Pena, after Reyes-Pena received her title. Reyes-Pena is the first titled Latina Miss Root after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alex Rodriguez

She also spoke about her platform for Latino mental health in front of a crowd of about 60 people.

“A lot (of Latinos) have been told to believe that their mental health is not a top priority, and that’s for rich white people who just don’t know what to do with their money,” Reyes-Pena said. . “Latinos make up approximately 18.5% of the United States population and at least 16% of members of the Latino community have been diagnosed with mental illness.”

Miss Latina Racine is a scholarship title like Miss Racine, but is located entirely in Racine County while Miss Racine is part of Miss America. The event was first organized in 1998 by a group of Latin women Racine who wanted to encourage young Latin women to pursue higher education.

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

The current Miss Racine, Maria Jose Castillo, hosted the event. Castillo was the recipient of Miss Latina Root 2017. Castillo’s time as Miss Root will end on Saturday at a ceremony that will crown Miss Root of 2023.

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