The winner of the first Miss Westchester USA pageant and Yorktown resident , 25, will proudly represent the area when she takes the stage at the 2012 Miss New York USA pageant this week.
DeLeon, who is originally from the Bronx, said being crowned as Miss Westchester has changed her life in more ways she could describe.
"I have learned so much about myself and found out that I was capable of things beyond my imagination," she said. "Time management and networking are amongst the two big skills I’ve learned. Branding myself has become a big part of life since I was the face of the Westchester Pageant and now for my own campaign towards the Miss New York USA title."
She said she has met and worked with people she otherwise would not have had the chance to.
"Many doors have been opened for me, so now it is a matter of figuring out which one I want to walk through," DeLeon said.
DeLeon holds a dual Bachelor's degree in childhood education and special education, graduating Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Old Westbury. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Early Childhood Education at Mercy College and plans to pursue a career in early intervention.
She said she entered the Miss Westchester pageant, after not being in pageants for nearly 10 years, because she was in a place in her life where she needed to regain her confidence and do something for herself, she said.
"My grandfather entered me in my first pageant when I was almost 8 years old," she said. "I really had no idea what I was doing, but I won and that is really all I remember. I really loved it because I was a real ham as a child and loved to be in front of a crowd. From there it sort of snowballed into a straight seven-year run of pageants until the age of 14. I still have roughly 70 trophies I’ve kept as remembrance of those days."
When asked about why she thinks the judges picked her as the winner of the Miss Westchester pageant, DeLeon said she still doesn't know how they were able to pick the winner among all the girls, but she said she was herself on stage and during the interview portion.
"I spoke about the things that were truly important to me and I think that the judges can tell when you are genuine," she said.
One of DeLeon's platforms is anti-bullying and she has often spoken about being bullied herself. She said she wants to share the message with children and teenagers that things get better.
"At times it feels like your world is ending and you feel helpless, but I want them to be comfortable with talking about it and expressing their feelings," she said. "Some people are very good at making others feel unworthy or that they deserve to be bullied, and I will tell you that no one deserves to be treated that way. I think I am living proof that it gets better."
To prepare for the pageant, DeLeon said she had been making healthy eating choices and training since September to get her body ready to be on stage in a swimsuit, which she calls possibly the "most nerve wrecking part" of the pageant.
What DeLeon said she looks forward to the most about the pageant is making everyone proud.
"I cannot wait to be on stage and let everyone who has become a part of this see what the finished product looks like," she said. "It is an ever evolving process and I feel that I have been growing and changing daily, for the better of course."
DeLeon said there are many things she wants to achieve in her future but her main goal is to be happy with whatever she ends up doing.
"Whether I am doing early intervention with preschoolers, coaching girls or choreographing for pageants, or interviewing celebrities as a television personality, I just want to be happy with my life," she said.
She is currently filming a talk show "Smart. Beautiful. You!" which will air after the pageant. Each show will cover a variety of topics, including fashion and beauty, health and fitness, modeling and money matters, she said.
When asked about some of the misconceptions people have about pageants, DeLeon said people have the stereotype in their mind of a beautiful girl who isn't smart.
"They also think that they are shallow because we are only judged on "beauty," she said. "For those who take the time to understand exactly how pageants work, they understand that these misconceptions are exactly that, misconceptions."
DeLeon is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Yorktown Heights. Among her hobbies are working out, dancing, playing sports, planning family parties, bowling, taking photographs and creating albums; traveling and learning about different cultures.
She has received an enormous amount of and business owners, including providing her with personal training, getting her nails done for events, spray tanning, laser hair removal and jewelry among others. DeLeon is being represented by Ruby Media Group and its team. Click here to check out DeLeon's sponsors.
All 146 participants in the Miss New York USA will begin their competition following the Miss Teen competition, with their main event taking place on January 14, at 7:30 p.m. at .
Eleven judges will evaluate the contestants based on character, poise, confidence and personality in three areas: interview, swimsuit and evening gown. The final winner will go on to compete in the 61st Miss USA pageant on June 3, which is the precursor to the Miss Universe pageant.