Teen goes from misery and oppression in Cuba to Miss Teen Universe Arizona

Growing up in communist Cuba, the best she could hope for was to survive another day. But once she arrived in the U.S. and to freedom, Cuban refugee Amys Napoles Ochoa was able to hope for and achieve much more.

Via CiberCuba (my translation):

Young Cuban finds success in the U.S. as a model and beauty queen

While living in Cuba, Amy Nápoles Ochoa never imagined her childhood dreams would come true; she saw becoming a model, a beauty queen, and succeeding in the United States as a distant possibility.

At just 18 years old, she won the title of Miss Teen Universe Arizona after arriving in the United States in 2021 and competing in a beauty pageant for the first time.

“I can’t believe the dream of my nine-year-old self is coming true. A year ago, I was in Cuba asking God for the opportunity to make my dreams come true, and unfortunately, I had to leave a whole life behind to achieve them,” she wrote on her Instagram after winning the competition last May.

“I have experienced poverty and oppression, just like 11-million Cubans are experiencing right now. I won’t give up until my voice is heard globally,” she alongside photos where she proudly held the Cuban flag.

In an interview with Telemundo 51, the young woman said she worked and practiced a lot to achieve this feat, even modeling at home in front of her mother to prepare for this moment.

“Since I lived in Cuba, I always told my mom: ‘Mom, when I go, I want to be a model, I want to be involved in modeling, in a competition,'” Amy said, but she knew that opportunities like these were hard to come by in Cuba.

Most of her adolescence was spent on the island with her grandmother, waiting for the moment when she could reunite with her parents in the United States, something she achieved at the age of 16.

Starting anew in this country was difficult, especially because of the language barrier: “On the first day of school, I came home crying because I hadn’t understood anything the teachers had said. I often felt a bit excluded because I didn’t know how to communicate.”

These barriers are now behind her, as Amy Nápoles Ochoa is, to this day, a beauty queen, but above all, a triumphant figure who serves as an inspiration to many young Cubans.

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