Valrico native and Durant High graduate Victoria ‘Tori’ Leto was crowned Miss Tampa at the 75th anniversary of the Miss Tampa Scholarship Pageant in January.
Leto, a junior at the University of South Florida majoring in premed psychology, had competed in pageants in high school, but this one had the most intensive selection process, she said. Contestants were scored on a personal interview with judges (35 percent), talent (35 percent), red-carpet evening wear (15 percent) and on-stage interview/social impact pitch (15 percent).
For the talent portion of the competition, Leto, who has been a competitive trumpet player for nine years, wowed the judges by performing “La Vie en Rose” by Louis Armstrong.
She plans to use her platform to address the uncomfortable perceptions surrounding teen mental health and use her own story to inspire and educate others through hard-hitting and necessary conversations.
“I had a pretty unfortunate high school experience and struggled with mental health in high school,” she admitted. “I have an opportunity to help others that are in that situation and want to share a message of the importance of self-love.”
She is sharing her message to local schools, has started writing a book and hopes to create partnerships with local organizations like the Crisis Center at the Gracepoint Foundation.
During her trials, a quote from New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp helped her persevere: “No amount of regret will change the past and no amount of worry can change the future.”
“It’s my mantra to help me stay grounded and focused,” she said. “It reminds me to be present in every moment and do what I can to move forward.”
Leto is definitely moving forward. She will head to the Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant in Lakeland in June, where more than $1.1 million in scholarships have been awarded in the last five years. If she wins the title of Miss Florida, Leto will represent Florida in the Miss America Scholarship Pageant.
She’s honored to represent her hometown in the pageant and is grateful for the community support.
“They say it takes a village, but I feel like I have the entire city of Tampa behind me encouraging me on this journey,” said Leto.
For more information about the Miss Tampa Scholarship Competition or Leto, visit www.officialmisstampa.org.