The Texas crown now rests on the head of a McAllen native.
Victoria Hinojosa, 22, of McAllen was crowned Miss Texas USA 2021 at a pageant held in Houston on Saturday. With the victory secured, Hinojosa now has her eyes set on the Miss USA crown and setting an example for Rio Grande Valley children.
The McAllen Memorial graduate began competing in pageants in 2015. She graduated from Texas A&M in December of last year with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and journalism. She said she draws inspiration from her grandfather, former U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa.
“My grandfather was a big mentor and somebody that I looked up to growing up,” Hinojosa said. “I saw a lot of the positive impacts he made in our community, especially in the education world. He really motivated me to want to do something with my voice. Competing under Miss Texas USA, I knew that I wanted to empower kids to not only continue their education despite their upbringings, but use my voice to teach them the importance of embracing our differences and appreciating others’ cultures.”
Hinojosa said that she was in disbelief when she heard the results of this weekend’s Miss Texas USA pageant. She described the moment as something she had dreamed up since she was young.
“First, I couldn’t believe that I was standing in the top 2,” Hinojosa said. “It was just me and R’Bonney (Gabriel) standing, and I had a million things running through my mind. I honestly couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking once they announced her name as first runner up. I couldn’t believe it. I turned and looked up at Miss Texas USA 2020, and I was like, ‘Is this real life?’ I just couldn’t believe it. I had worked my butt off to be in that position, but it was one of my biggest dreams coming true. To finally be in that moment, it was an honor that the judges selected me to represent Texas on the Miss USA stage.”
With many years of experience competing in pageants, Hinojosa said earning such a distinction comes with some negativity attached to it. Despite that, she said she has learned to block out negativity and embrace who she is.
“Being in the light and putting yourself out there comes with a lot of negative comments, hate, and I think that learning to take all that with a grain of salt and to just truly embrace who I was despite whatever others thought of me was something that was a great lesson learned,” Hinojosa said. “I think anybody can learn from that. I really learned the importance of not taking anything personal, standing up for who I am, and — same thing as my platform on embracing diversity — not changing or conforming who you are to fit the standards of somebody else and just being confident in who you are each and every day.”
With the Miss USA 2021 pageant looming on Nov. 29, Hinojosa said that she is excited to represent the Valley and state of Texas in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and earn herself a spot in the Miss Universe pageant in Eilat, Israel.
“I’m locked in. I’m ready,” Hinojosa said. “I think that I really prepared for Miss Texas USA, so I’m really just in a stage of maintaining where I’m at and polishing up my interview skills and, like healthwise — just continuing to workout and eat clean, and really focusing on using my voice. More than anything, that’s what I wanted to do with my title. Leading up to Miss USA, that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
With her story, Hinojosa hopes there may be a girl or boy who reads about what she’s achieved and uses it as motivation to realize their dreams, especially for those who lack confidence.
“I hope to be a role model to that person that doesn’t believe in themself to continue chasing their dreams no matter how big they are,” she said. “I hope that they see me and what I’ve done and look up to me and do the same thing. That’s really what I hope to get out of it. I think being from the Rio Grande Valley, sometimes we put ourselves in this little bubble. We don’t think that we can go that far. We think our dream is too big.
“I want to really encourage — especially our impressionable youth — that there is no dream that is too big, especially with hard work and dedication. Anything is possible.”