News 8 will be live broadcasting The Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Parade on Saturday, June 2nd.
Meet the Queen, Angelica Lee Vargas, a senior at Middletown High School dedicated to generosity and social justice.
“I feel like I’ve had growth I never thought I’d have in my life,” says the 18-year-old, of her experience as Miss Puerto Rico of Greater Hartford. “I knew that being Miss Puerto Rico would give me the opportunity to speak in front of people and use my voice.”
Vargas is close to her roots.
“I’ve been to Puerto Rico every summer,” she says. “I love my culture, I love who I am as a Puerto Rican woman.”
She was deeply affected by Hurricane Maria‘s devastation.
“It was like a nightmare – you wake up and tell yourself it was just a dream but you woke-up to knowing I might not be able to get a call from my relatives in Puerto Rico.”
She took part in a fundraiser collecting supplies for people in the island.
“We built-up the waters into a fort and took pictures on top of the fort – we collected so many things,” she says.
Vargas possesses a maturity that helped her speak-out at school when she noticed something shocking.
“I was the only Puerto Rican girl in all my advanced placement classes. I was the only minority in some of me classes,” she explains.
Vargas teamed-up with other students, including Stephen Hill, to work with Equal Opportunity Schools to increase diversity in her high school’s AP classes. Now, the number of under-represented students in these classes has increased an astounding 400%.
“That’s just so satisfying, knowing that all the work you put in is paying off, it’s the greatest feeling,” says Hill. “I learned from Angelica to be fearless in speaking and voicing my opinion.”
This role model is the first in her family to graduate from high school. Her goal is to become a criminal justice lawyer.
Vargas says being Miss Puerto Rico means more than wearing a crown.
“I can’t wait to parade and see the faces of my family members and the people I know and for them to see this is what I’m doing for my future. This is what your kids can be doing, your grandkids can be doing,” she says.
News 8’s live coverage of the parade begins Saturday at noon.