Pageant of Hope

By Emily Gold / May / June 1999
November 14th, 2007
When dilania inoa '99 decided to compete in the Miss Rhode Island Latina pageant this spring, her motives were not what you'd expect. An honors student who plans to be a community organizer before going on to graduate school, Inoa entered the contest to dispel what she sees as a misperception about Latinas. "I'm worried we're seen as not intelligent," says Inoa. "I figured I could enter the pageant and sort of bring a different perspective."

The approach charmed the judges enough to win her the pageant. A concentrator in Latin American and ethnic studies, Inoa plans to use her crown as an entrée into Providence's public schools, where she wants to help graduating seniors with their college applications. A graduate of Providence's Central High School, Inoa learned about college herself through Upward Bound, a federally funded education program designed to help students get into college.

Inoa describes herself as an immigrant who "took advantage of everything" offered to her in the United States. Born in the Dominican Republic, she left at age twelve, when her family moved to Providence. Her parents later returned to their native country, but Inoa stayed with her sister to finish her classes at Central High. After Upward Bound, she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer before arriving at Brown.

Inoa will try to become Miss U.S.A. Latina at a September pageant in Providence. The state pageant is the first she has ever won, and only the second she has entered. "I'm getting an education, which I believe is the only thing that can make me get ahead in life," she says, adding that she hopes her having succeeded at Brown will show Latino high school students throughout the city that they, too, can make it.

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May / June 1999