Keenan Pasztor becomes third Chapman student to win Miss Tustin

Sociology major Keenan Pasztor won the title of Miss Tustin on Feb. 23 and will move on to compete for Miss California in June 2019. Photo by Mia Fortunato

When junior Keenan Pasztor stepped onstage, she wasn’t your standard pageant girl. Instead of a typical stage hairstyle, Keenan chose wear her naturally curly hair as she walked across the runway to win Miss Tustin Feb. 23.

“I feel like especially with my hair a lot of people like the pageant stereotype of straight wavy teased, but I left mine natural,” Keenan said. “The woman who won Miss Los Angeles has hair like mine too, representing in the pageant community.”

Miss Tustin is a scholarship program and a preliminary pageant for Miss California and Miss America, according to their website. Pasztor is preparing to compete in June for Miss California against 55 other competitors.

Pasztor is the third Chapman student to win the pageant since it became affiliated with Miss America in 1999.

“I did (the pageant) to meet new people and make friends so I was shocked,” Pasztor said.

Growing up, Pasztor was a performer, but not a pageant girl. She took part in dance competitions, but she made a spontaneous decision to start doing pageants was somewhat spur of the moment when her hairdresser inspired her to participate.

When Pasztor won her mother immediately starting sobbing, she said.

“I’m so proud of her hard work, dedication, and willingness to never give up,” Pasztor’s mother said.

The pageant consisted of an off-stage and on-stage portion with 10 other contestants. The off-stage portion consisted of an interview before the pageant, submitting a resume and choosing a platform to advocate for. Pasztor’s chosen platform, “To Write Love on Her Arms,” is an organization that helps people struggling with mental health issues or addiction get the resources and treatment they need to reach recovery.

“I get to go around and talk about my platform to elementary and middle schoolers,” Pasztor said. “As soon as I got access to the Miss Tustin Instagram account, I put the (To Write Love on Her Arms) website in the bio.”

During the on-stage portion of the pageant, Pasztor took part in a Q&A style interview, in addition to a swimwear and evening wear runway. The Feb. 23 pageant lasted from around 11:45 a.m. to midnight. While the 12-hour day took a toll on Pasztor, she said the hardest part of the pageant was preparing for the question and answer portion.

“When we did practice on-stage questions, I got a question about Planned Parenthood and abortion and I freaked out,” she said. “I have so many thoughts on this and I don’t know how to condense it into 30 seconds.”

In June, Pasztor will compete for Miss California in Fresno.

“I’m so scared, but I’m improving my skills; I’m learning new things and meeting new people,” she said.