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Seattle beauty queen deploys

Reservist deploys to Iraq as a logistics officer

Lt. Col. Beatriz Florez receives her combat patch signifying her service deployed in a combat zone. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Cody Kilduff

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ERBIL AIR BASE, Iraq - Little girls often dream of one day becoming a princess and living the fairytale life. Not many envision lacing up a pair a boots and joining the military, but that was exactly what Lt. Col Beatriz Florez did.

She is part of the generation of men and women who were profoundly affected by the events of Sep 11, 2001, and decided to dedicate their lives to public service by enlisting or commissioning into the military.

"I wanted to serve my country," she said. "I made the decision that I would join after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I was a junior in high school at the time, and after watching the tragic events unfold on the news, I was resolved to serve."

Florez commissioned through the ROTC program in 2006 through University of Texas - Pan American and decided to serve in the Army Reserve to continue her studies. She currently has 16 years of military service, 14 of which were as a commissioned officer.

The Army Reserve allowed her to serve her country and pursue her civilian career as a social worker for the Veterans Health Administration. She has always had a deep sense of service and wanted to find ways to further this within her community. Beauty pageants were always at the back of her mind, but learning that they could be community based helped sway her decision to compete.

"I always found pageants interesting, but never had the means or resources as a teen to compete," Florez said. "When I turned 30, a friend of mine reached out to me and encouraged me to compete. At the time, I did not realize that there were pageants for people over 30. I soon found out that there are so many pageants that allow people of all ages and backgrounds to compete."

There are pageants for any interest or goal someone might have. Some are solely for beauty, while others are for scholarships or are community based. Florez chose to compete in the Belleza Latina competition because it focused on service and giving back to your community. In 2020, the competition became an "at-large" pageant and Florez was able to compete at the national level.

Choosing a pageant was just the first step. Next was planning out the pageant preparation all the way up to the pageant week. The areas of competition included interview, fashion wear, evening gown, and photogenic events.

"The Belleza Latina Pageant is focused on selecting someone that could be a good representative of the Latino Community, therefore the interview portion of the competition is weighted the highest," she said. "This was definitely where I focused my training and preparation. There was a lot of self-reflection and platform development. The judges want to see you are committed to service."

The Seattle-resident said preparations for pageants is stressful and you must be prepared.

Most recently, Florez was crowned as Ms. Belleza Latina International 2020, a title she continues to hold because the 2021 pageant was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

The officer and the beauty queen

Florez knows what it takes to achieve her goals. She has put in the work and continues to pursue roles that challenge her. She is currently deployed to Erbil Air Base in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve as the executive officer for the Syrian Logistics Cell. The SLC functions as part of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command's Operational Command Post, headquartered at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Florez is not the only service member to compete or win a pageant title. She joins a number of service women who choose to compete in pageants including Army Reserve Capt. Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016; Texas Army National Guard Staff Sgt. San Juanita Escobar, Mrs. Texas Galaxy 2018, and 1st Lt. Angela May DiMattia, Ms. Colorado 2019.

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