Student adds pageantry to accomplishments

College is a stressful time for any student. It can be incredibly difficult at times to balance school and work, but for Raquel Leviss, there is the added stress of balancing her pageant career.

Now a junior at Sonoma State University, Leviss has the distinct honor of representing Sonoma County as Miss Sonoma County USA. She will continue to compete in preliminary pageants until she accomplishes her dream of becoming Miss California USA.

Many young women compete in local USA preliminaries with the hopes of becoming models or actresses. For Leviss, competing in pageants gives her a platform to spread awareness about disability rights and serves as a way to support children with special needs.

“This summer I will be volunteering as a camp counselor for The Painted Turtle, an innovative camp dedicated to providing fun and support for children with severe medical conditions so they can enjoy being kids in a safe environment built for their needs,” said Leviss. “This camp will not only help me gain experience for my future career, but I would like to advocate disability rights as Miss California USA as well.”

Leviss is majoring in Kinesiology with an emphasis in pre-occupational therapy. She has managed to juggle a demanding major, her sorority, work and pageant appearances and competitions throughout her time at Sonoma State.

“My studies are a priority because they will enable me to pursue a career as an occupational therapist for children who have severe medical conditions and special needs. Alpha Gamma Delta has been a key to my scholarly success in school. Alpha Gamma Delta places a high value on academics which has given me motivation to graduate with a high GPA,” said Leviss.

Her scholarly accomplishments do not go unnoticed. Leviss’ professor, Bulent Sokmen, speaks highly of her as a student in his Kinesiology class.“I enjoy having her in the class, not only because she is one of the top students but because of her keen intellectual curiosity regarding how nutrition impacts well-being, health and fitness. She is attentive and engaged, and contributes greatly to a positive atmosphere in the classroom. She has great communication skills, a personable manner, and a respectful and intelligent approach whenever she speaks in the class,” said Sokmen.

Leviss’ friends speak highly of her accomplishments both in school and in her personal life as well.

“The way Raquel can balance her schoolwork while attending multiple competitive pageants and social life, is truly amazing. She always knows how to lighten the mood if things are going awry which I'm really looking forward to as we approach finals season,” said sophomore Katelyn Medlin, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta.

As Miss Sonoma County USA, Leviss had the opportunity to compete at Miss California USA this past December. Although she did not bring home the crown, she is determined to return more prepared than ever. In addition to appearances and the opportunity to compete at Miss California USA, Leviss will crown her successor once her year-long reign comes to an end.

Leviss has a large support system ranging from loved one to close friends and fans. Her fast-paced lifestyle inspires many of her friends to accomplish their goals as well.

“Raquel is the type of person who truly inspires everyone she is around to be the best person they can be. She always encourages me to make the best decisions and always has my best interest in mind. She isn't just my best friend, but someone I look up to because she truly cares for everyone around her, and will always be there no matter what she has going on,” said senior Mandi Chira, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta.

Leviss will continue to serve the rest of her reign as Miss Sonoma County USA and will continue to pursue her goal of becoming Miss California USA. In the meantime she will continue to pursue her academics and strive for success both on and off the stage.

Leviss began competing in pageants during her junior year of high school. Pageantry helped her overcome her shyness and gave her the opportunity to try something out of her comfort zone. In high school, Leviss had tremendous success at Miss California Teen USA placing in the top 10 her second year competing.