Elise Barco is a minority in her civil engineering classes at Fresno State — and she wants that to change.
So she made “Women in STEM” (Science Technology Engineering Math) her platform for the Miss Clovis 2016 pageant on Feb. 20.
Barco was crowned the winner after an interview, onstage question, swimsuit and evening gown competition and performing her talent: a jazz dance to “Feeling Good” by Lauryn Hill.
The 18-year-old is not new to pageants, but she hasn’t been around them her whole life, either. Barco was born in Clovis Community Medical Center and has lived here her whole life, attending Dry Creek Elementary, Alta Sierra Intermediate and University High School. That’s where her interest in pageants began.
“I started in my junior year of highschool; I competed in Miss Fresno County Outstanding Teen,” she said. She won the 2014 competition and went on to compete for the title of Miss California Outstanding Teen.
Miss Clovis was her second local pageant. In June, she’ll try for the title of Miss California in Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre.
In the meantime, she is working to perfect her dance routine — she’s been dancing since she was 3 years old and enjoys being able to show the audience her passion — and expand her platform.
The Clovis Independent chatted with Barco in the week after her win and she accepted the Turbo Twelve challenge: a dozen random questions asked in quick succession.
Turbo Twelve: A dozen quick questions with Miss Clovis 2016 Elise Barco
Clovis Independent: What made you choose your platform?
Elise Barco: It’s “Women in STEM.” When I was a junior in high school I took a summer engineering course at Fresno State and realized there were no girls at all. So that’s kind of why I picked (civil engineering) as my major. It gives me an opportunity to stand out. Even now in my engineering classes I’m a minority. I want to encourage young girls to get into those career fields, and the younger they are when they learn about these careers, the more likely they are to pursue that career path. I’m expanding my platform to reach out to local high schools in (Clovis Unified School District) and I want to talk to students and encourage to pursue STEM.
CI: What’s a question you wish they had asked in the competition, and how would you answer?
EB: What is the motto you live by and why? (Her answer would be:) Keep it real. Because it’s really easy when you’re competing in a pageant with other girls who have different backgrounds and personalities to try to impress the judges by using things that are special to them. But if you’re being honest with who you are and you end up winning the competition, you’ll feel better about yourself because the whole time it was you being you, rather than trying to be like someone else.
CI: What’s your favorite Clovis restaurant?
EB: Luna’s! (Luna Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant. She orders the calzone.)
CI: What’s your go-to order at Starbucks?
EB: A caramel iced coffee with cream
CI: What would your dream vacation be like?
EB: A trip to San Francisco. It would involve going to a Giants game and Sushirrito. It’s a sushi burrito hybrid in San Francisco, it’s so good.
CI: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
EB: Compete at Miss America, write a book and learn another language
CI: What’s your dream job?
EB: A civil engineer working in water resource management and the owner of my own firm.
CI: What’s your favorite song on the radio right now?
EB: I don’t listen to the radio. But let’s go with “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
CI: What’s your favorite song to perform to?
EB: My talent song, “Feeling Good” by Lauryn Hill. Oh wait, can we change that? The Bulldog Fight Song. (She’s a Fresno State cheerleader.)
CI: What’s the most unusual thing you’ve had to do in a pageant?
EB: We have to spray on butt glue to the swimsuits so that we don’t get a wedgie when we walk.
CI: What one bad habit that you wish you could quit?
EB: It’s not really a bad habit, I guess, but I’m addicted to coffee. (She drinks no more than one a day, but must have her coffee daily.
CI: What’s on your Netflix queue?
EB: Let me pull it up. TV shows like “The Office,” “The New Girl,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Friends.” I just got done with “Friends.”