Miss Nevada County has many interests | TheUnion.com

Miss Nevada County has many interests

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A quick show of hands, now, if you can remember the name of Miss Nevada County 2002.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Didn’t think so.

The second-ever holder of that title is a 23-year-old substitute teacher, operatic singer and domestic violence counselor who someday hopes to take over the airwaves as a R&B diva.

Jasmine Silva, who grew up in Lake Wildwood and graduated from Nevada Union High in 1996, was crowned in early January, replacing Genevieve Finch.

But Silva, who teaches in Woodland schools and hopes one day to attend law school, doesn’t buy that beauty-school schtick.

“I’m the unlikely candidate who never shaved her legs in school, but I really like singing and performing,” said Silva, who plans to take her razor along to Fresno this summer, where the annual Miss California pageant is held.

“If you saw me walking down the street, you’d never think of me as a beauty queen,” she said.

It’s Silva’s second trip to the state’s unlikely beauty queen capital, where more than 50 women gather each sweltering summer for the chance to advance to the annual Miss America Pageant.

The ultimate goal, in addition to walking across an Atlantic City ballroom in front of millions of television viewers as the ghost of Bert Parks sings the theme song, is money.

Several hundred thousand dollars worth of prize and scholarship money plus the chance, in Silva’s case, to heighten awareness of domestic violence, fuels her ambition.

Silva, Miss Monterey Bay in 2000 and the holder of degrees in philosophy and community studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, didn’t place in the top 10 her last trip to Fresno.

Her goal this year includes promoting Nevada County’s fledgling contest, which drew just six contestants this year and four in its first year.

“It took me a while to convince (Supervisor) Izzy Martin that this wasn’t just a beauty contest,” said pageant organizer Patricia Smith, a 42-year-old student and mother of two who approached the supervisors last year and received enough money to grant the finalists scholarships this year.

Sure, there’s a swimsuit competition in Atlantic City. Lasts about 20 seconds. But competing means more than a flashy grin.

“There’s more of an emphasis on speaking and talents,” said Silva, who appeared recently in Michael Jackson’s latest video, “Cry,” as one of the few paid singers, and has worked on state domestic violence laws in between voice lessons in San Francisco, teaching and making music demo tapes.

Silva and Smith hope to tap into Nevada County’s rich performing arts heritage to increase entrants next year.

“Getting people in touch with the talents of younger people is very important,” Silva said.

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