Miss New Mexico USA, Kamryn Blackwood, smiles during a meet and greet last week at the San Juan Country Club in Farmington.
Miss New Mexico USA, Kamryn Blackwood, smiles during a meet and greet last week at the San Juan Country Club in Farmington. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — In the summer of 2012, Kamryn Blackwood and her father, Lynn Blackwood, sat down to watch the Miss USA contest on television.

Kamryn Blackwood turned to her father and told him she wanted to compete in the Miss New Mexico USA pageant.

And three weeks ago, Farmington High School graduate Kamryn Blackwood took home the Miss New Mexico USA crown. She is now preparing to compete in the Miss USA contest in mid-June.

The road to becoming Miss New Mexico USA wasn't short for the 21-year-old Blackwood. Her parents encouraged her to focus on her degree. She enrolled in college at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, where she had been given a tennis scholarship. But she never gave up her dream of one day becoming Miss USA.

Two-year-old Hadley Pendergrass, right, looks up at Miss New Mexico USA, Kamryn Blackwood, during a meet and greet last week at the San Juan Country Club
Two-year-old Hadley Pendergrass, right, looks up at Miss New Mexico USA, Kamryn Blackwood, during a meet and greet last week at the San Juan Country Club in Farmington. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

In 2013, she and her father attended the 2013 Miss New Mexico USA competition to watch.

The two of them sat in the back. Lynn Blackwood said he kept asking his daughter if she still wanted to compete. She said she turned to him and said, "Yeah, Dad, and I'll win."

She watched as Miss New Mexico USA 2013 was crowned.

"To watch the girl's face when she won, I wanted that feeling," Blackwood said.

After deciding to compete, Blackwood came up with a one-year plan. And she knew she would win.

Blackwood piled up school credits during fall semester so she would have time to focus on the Miss New Mexico USA competition during the spring.

She also began to train.

"I have a very athletic walk and a very athletic build," she said.

She found a coach to teach her how to walk and she started to exercise her core more in order to be "bikini fit."

She also started to train for the interview portions of the competition.

When the competition came, the questions surprised her.

"In your mind, you're thinking they're going to be very political," she said.

Instead, she was asked what her New Year's resolution was.

Miss New Mexico USA, Kamryn Blackwood, laughs after meeting 2-year-old Hadley Pendergrass, (center), during a meet and greet last week at the San Juan
Miss New Mexico USA, Kamryn Blackwood, laughs after meeting 2-year-old Hadley Pendergrass, (center), during a meet and greet last week at the San Juan Country Club in Farmington. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

Blackwood thought about it and about her training. She said training to be Miss New Mexico USA had gotten her thinking about the importance of health and fitness. She said her resolution is to pass this message on to children.

Another important part of preparing for the competition was choosing a design for her dress. She said she already had a design picked out in her head.

The gown was an emerald green with long sleeves and a high cut neck. However, it had an extremely low back, that caught the audience's attention.

She said one of her friends later told her that when she turned around there was a collective, "whoa."

After winning Miss New Mexico USA, she became one of only a few girls to compete in Miss USA without any prior experience.

Blackwood's parents have supported her the entire time. However, Lynn Blackwood said he tries to remember that he didn't win the award.

"I just be Dad," he said. "That's what she wants."

He said for the most part he just talks with her and listens to her.

Kamryn Blackwood said she appreciates this from both her father and her mother, Tyra Lopez.

"Sometimes I don't need an answer, I just need someone to listen," she said.

In addition to support from her family, Blackwood has received support from teammates and the university.

Her picture is displayed on the university's website as one of the first things visitors see.

"There's a little pocket in Florida that's for Miss New Mexico (USA)," Lynn Blackwood said.

Like all other contestants in Miss USA, Blackwood has a platform she promotes in media interviews, and talking to community leaders and others with influence.

The Miss New Mexico USA organization decided to make the platform breast and ovarian cancer, but Blackwood is also promoting National Day of Care, which is a Farmington organization focused on building houses in Africa. She currently serves on the organization's board of directors.

Blackwood said her father and brother were involved in missionary work before she got involved with National Day of Care through a group from Pinon Hills Community Church.

"Hearing their stories and how their lives were changed and they changed lives, how could I not go?" she said.

While in Kenya, Kamryn Blackwood and a group of 19 other people built 10 houses. She hopes to increase the number of houses built in Kenya while serving as Miss New Mexico USA.

For the organization's platform, Blackwood is taking her cues from Farmington.

Every year in October, Farmington hosts "Get Pinked," which raises awareness and money for breast cancer.

One part of "Get Pinked" is the "Pink Glove Dance," in which people from around the community dance wearing pink gloves. The dances are filmed and entered in a video competition.

Kamryn Blackwood wants to introduce this event to other communities across the state.

"It really brings the community together," she said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.