Kyndall Garza of North Las Vegas was 17 when she left home and started working two jobs — a change in her life that shaped her journey in years to come, she said.
“I had a complicated relationship with my mom, so I kind of couch-hopped for a little while,” said Garza, 20. “It was pretty tough, especially as a teen. But it’s when I developed a passion for teen homelessness. Young people don’t have the same options as adults who are homeless. They can’t get a job or apply for an apartment. They literally can’t do anything.”
Garza began to develop a plan to help homeless youth. Last month, she competed in the Miss World America state competition in Costa Mesa, California, where her cause of choice was teen homelessness. She was crowned Miss World America — Nevada 2019 and will go on to compete in the national competition at The Orleans on Oct. 12.
“I found the competition about three months ago while looking for gigs on Backstage,” Garza said. “What I love most about it is the fact that it’s not like most beauty pageants. They have a strong focus on community service, and that’s what ultimately led me to sign up. I was born and raised here in Vegas, and I want to make a difference in my community.”
Miss World America is an international beauty pageant that was founded in London in the 1950s, according to Diane Schmidt, state director for the competition in California and Nevada. The pageant has both a teen and a miss category. Contestants compete at state, national and international levels in an effort to take home the title of Miss World America at the final competition. This year’s international competition is set for Nov. 20-Dec. 14 in London, Schmidt said.
“My daughter was Miss Washington when she was younger, so I’ve kind of been on this track for a while,” Schmidt said. “As director of the states of California and Nevada, I mentor the girls to help them accomplish the goals they have set in the competition. I’m here to give them as much help as they want. I’m basically their support team.”
Schmidt became a director in March, after hearing that the pageant had a new national director who was looking for state directors to expand Miss World in the United States.
“They have a very strong philanthropic focus,” Schmidt said. “They have something called Beauty with a Purpose where each contestant has to choose a cause, create a project from it, and it’s judged as part of the competition. It really separates it from other beauty pageants and allows title holders to be recognized for their excellence.”
If you go
What: Miss World America 2019 final
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12
Where: The Orleans, 4500 W. Tropicana Ave.