In her third attempt to win the crown, Vannesa Macias was named this year's Miss Carson City.
"When they announced my name, I just started crying," said Macias, 23. "I was so excited. It was a dream come true."
The 2006 Carson High School graduate was crowned March 17 during the preliminary pageant to the Miss Nevada and Miss America pageants.
Macias got started in pageants three years ago on the suggestion of a colleague who saw her perform in a talent show as part of Western Nevada College's Latino Student Club.
"I just got hooked," she said.
In her first attempt, she was named first runner-up to Miss Carson City. Last year, she was second runner-up.
"I had a feeling this was my year," she said. "And I worked really hard to be confident on stage."
Macias ran on the platform "Education - the key to success."
Learning English as a second language and being a first-generation high school graduate, Macias said she was intimidated by higher education. But after working as a reading tutor at Empire Elementary School, she was inspired to enroll at WNC and later graduated from the college.
Her goal is to go on to get her master's degree and become a teacher.
"I want to go out and encourage the students and tell them they can do it," she said. "I think I'm the perfect example."
She will take that platform to the Miss Nevada Pageant in Mesquite in July.
"I most definitely want to go for the whole thing," she said. "I'm going to give it my best, but I'll be happy with whatever results. I'm going in knowing I'm already a winner."
Macias lives in Carson City with her parents, Juan and Maria E., and brothers Cesar, 25, and Juan Jr., 17.
Other winners in Saturday's pageant were Paris Regan, Miss Carson City's Outstanding Teen; and Brooklyn Maw, Miss Eagle Valley's Outstanding Teen. Jessika Wass was crowned Miss Douglas County, and Mackenzie St. Cyr was named Miss Douglas County's Outstanding Teen.