FARMINGTON — A young Farmington woman was crowned Miss New Mexico USA during the state pageant last weekend at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
Kamryn Blackwood, a 2010 Farmington High School graduate, will represent the Land of Enchantment at the 2014 Miss USA Pageant in June.
Blackwood, 21, is currently attending Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on a tennis and leadership scholarship and plans to graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Contestants in the Miss New Mexico USA competition are scored based on personality interviews, as well as on how they do in the swimsuit fitness and evening gown categories.
There is also a teen competition. Aundria Littlejohn of Las Cruces was crowned the Miss New Mexico Teen USA of 2014.
While this was Blackwood's first beauty pageant, she has won six state titles in other areas, including the all-around competition in gymnastics when she was eight, two team state tennis titles and two individual doubles tennis titles for Farmington High School.
Blackwood is currently on the board for the National Day of Care, a Farmington-based international organization that partners with Kenya. She traveled to the African country last summer with the group's "House of Hope" team to build homes and bring aid to hundreds of widows and orphans. During that trip, the group built 10 homes for the needy. Blackwood said one of her goals is to build a permanent water structure there that would sustain a village of more than 30,000 people.
"The experience was so amazing," she said of the trip to Kenya. "I can't wait to go back and help all those kids and other people who don't have anything."
Blackwood's family is understandably proud of her accomplishments.
"She is an achiever, and when she sets her mind to a goal, she will accomplish it," said her grandfather, William Hall, a local optometrist. "She's not only beautiful on the outside, she's beautiful on the inside."
Blackwood's mother, Tyra Lopez, also of Farmington, said she shocked when Blackwood's title win was announced.
"I was in such awe, I didn't know if it was real," she said. "New Mexico could not have picked a better ambassador than my daughter."
Farmington resident Ellyn Colyer Dimond attended the pageant to serve as a keynote speaker and a judge. Colyer Dimond, who recently battled breast cancer, took home the Miss New Mexico USA title in 2002.
Colyer Dimond said the Miss New Mexico USA organization selects a different cause each year to sponsor at a charity auction. This year, the organization chose to donate the $7,000 raised at the auction to the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" campaign, which raises funds for breast cancer research.
"We're the only state in the pageant that does a charity auction, so it's kind of a big deal," she said.
Colyer Dimond said she feels Blackwood will represent the state well in the national competition because others can relate to her.
"She's shown such heart and passion for the state of New Mexico and has such spirit and drive," Colyer Dimond said. "She shows that a beauty queen is not only beautiful on the outside, but can also inspire people."
Blackwood's fellow contestants apparently agreed with this assessment, as they voted her "Miss Congeniality."
"I thought that was so funny because on my profile, it says that I want to become an FBI agent in the future," Blackwood said, laughing at the nod to the 2000 movie starring Sandra Bullock, "Miss Congeniality."
She becomes serious, however, when describing what winning the Miss New Mexico USA title means to her.
"What an honor, to represent the state I was born and raised in," she said. "There's nothing like New Mexico. People are kind and really want the best for you. I want to give New Mexico the recognition it deserves."