Two Harker Heights High School students are vying to be crowned Miss Austin/Waco 2014 on Sunday.

Serena Rubio, 16, and Morena Redmon, 18, are both new to the pageant world. This competition, a preliminary for the national Miss Teen pageant, is a first for both teens.

“I thought everyone got the invitation in the mail, but my mom encouraged me to try it out and put myself out there,” Redmon said. “I’m really hoping to get some scholarship money to help pay for school.”

Shy and more comfortable sharing the spotlight with her varsity Lady Knights basketball teammates or with members of the Christian Life Church Praise and Worship Team, Redmon said she is doing the pageant to help her be more comfortable in her own skin.

If it wasn’t from a push from her mother, Chonita, Morena Redmon would have sat this one out.

“She has been truly gifted in many areas and this pageant serves as a platform to put herself out there,” Chonita Redmon said.

When Morena Redmon isn’t on the court or singing in choir, she volunteers with the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department’s Superhero adaptive sports program.

She was recognized as a finalist in the overall modeling category at the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ SHINE talent showcase in Orlando, Fla., in January. She also won the 2013 Rising Star of Roanoke vocalist competition. In college, she plans to pursue a degree in special education.

Rubio and Redmon learned of their acceptance into this year’s competition when the pageant announced their selections following interviews in Waco on Jan. 28. Both girls submitted applications and took part in an interview session.

“I’m excited for her,” said Serena Rubio’s mother, Terri. “This could open up a lot of doors for her.”

Rubio said she has always been interested in modeling but never got the chance to explore the opportunity.

“I’m hoping to gain better self-confidence,” she said. “I’m nervous about being on stage in front of so many people.”

To better prepare herself, Serena practiced her walk in front of her family.

“My mom and boyfriend have been asking me questions like the judges will on stage,” she said. “I’m practicing being able to come up with an answer on the spot.”

When she isn’t studying or doing homework, Rubio volunteers at women’s shelters, retirement homes and food banks. Her real passion, though, lies in the kitchen and she aspires to become a pastry chef.

Pageant hopefuls will compete for their share of thousands of dollars in prizes and specialty gifts that will be distributed to contestants. Prizes at the local level are a tiara, crown, title and trophy, and finalists receive an all-expense-paid trip to Florida to compete in the national pageant.

Rubio and Redmon both will compete in the Miss Teen division, one of four divisions for girls ages 7 to 19. Contestants will compete in modeling routines, which include casual wear and formal wear. This pageant circuit does not have a talent or swimsuit round. Instead, contestants will display their personalities and interviewing skills with this year’s Waco/Austin judging panel.

The winner of the pageant will represent Waco/Austin and the surrounding communities at the national competition in Orlando. More than $30,000 in prizes and awards will be presented at the national event. | 254-501-7567

Contact Vanessa Lynch at or 254-501-7567.

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