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20130104 MISSION native named Miss Hidalgo County 2013 AF -(photo-credit)RockyLozanoPhotographerMISSION—Cycling, pageants and education are three passions that fuel the life of Miss Hidalgo County 2013, Maritza Jimenez. The Mission native has received the title of Miss Hidalgo County 2013, an opportunity she has been hoping for, for the last three years.

Jimenez was born in Harlingen, and moved to Mission at 5 years of age. She graduated from Mission High School and attended Southwest Texas State (Texas State University-San Marcos) and the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA).

Currently, Jimenez works at UTPA as an academic advisor for the Migrant Program. Jimenez admits she started in pageants to cure her shyness as a child.

“My mom put me in ballet and bunch of other extra-curricular activities…they would always have contests for costumes and stuff like that and I would always win,” Jimenez said. “They would give a little crown or an award and I just got really into it, but it really took off after I graduated high school.”

Jimenez has also been named Miss South Texas Rose and La Reyna Del Valle in previous competitions. She has a strong belief in support systems; she added her parents have always been a huge help with competition technique and knowledge. Having a strong foundation is something Jimenez holds as one of the most important things in her life, with education and her involvement with the Sports Federation of the Valley.

“We cover cycling…we teach the basics and help people gain their speed,” Jimenez said. “It is a family environment, and we are starting to incorporate running and swimming.”

As an experienced cyclist, Jimenez explained she is in full support of the ‘Share the Road’ campaign, and hopes citizens of the county take the time to brush up on driving and cycling laws. Jimenez said knowledge is key with this subject, especially with her experience being struck by a vehicle.

“Be aware of your surroundings when you share the road,” Jimenez said. “It took me almost four months just to get on a bike, I went through an anxiety phase. It took a while to trust the bike again.”

With the title of Miss Hidalgo County, Jimenez said the court does provide community service, but she hopes to also be a role model for all ages.

“We don’t only serve Hidalgo County, we open up our community services to the Rio Grande Valley,” Jimenez said. “It feels good to have a crown…but I’ve been through so many things for my age, including being picked on, I just want to let people know it is about picking yourself up and succeeding.”

She believes Hidalgo County is growing rapidly including the City of Mission. She added she hopes to see any negatives the area faces, turned into positives as well as creating strong school systems for the county’s children.

When Jimenez is not cycling and giving back to the community, her hobbies include working out and traveling. She also has a deep seeded love for animals.

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