By Lisa Gaspar

Sonya Le, who is 20 years old, currently holds the title of Miss Vietnam Toronto 2017. Many of Sonya’s values are deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture. Born in British Columbia and now living in Toronto, she is second generation Vietnamese. Growing up with cultural values instilled by her parents and family, she learned the importance of respect for self and others. Being second generation has taught her to combine Canadian and Vietnamese lifestyles.

A graduate from McMaster University majoring in Health Studies, Sonya was up for new and exciting experiences and decided to audition for the pageant. Transitioning from student to competitor, her goal was to make a contribution to her Vietnamese community. After being accepted, Sonya promised herself that this pageant would help build her self-confidence and public speaking skills. Prior to becoming Miss Vietnam Toronto, Sonya’s days were spent studying, and doing yoga and pilates regularly. All of this changed once she was crowned with the pageant title.

“The most important aspect of the Miss Vietnam Toronto pageant is finding out who you are. As a contestant you discover your skills and talents and learn what you are capable of doing,” Sonya explains. She is also glad to have been able to form lasting relationships with the other contestants. “The pageant is about connecting women with their Vietnamese heritage and showcasing their best features and beliefs. This is important in strengthening personal confidence and sharing more about Vietnamese culture with the community.”

Sonya’s outspoken and diligent character works to her advantage, especially as she is a spokesperson for the pageant and its sponsors. A role model not only for the Vietnamese community, but also to aspiring pageant contestants, she wants to be a positive role model. Sonya believes that there is a misconception about beauty pageants and that the winner is only based on physical appearance. To her, being a contestant means representing and empowering the Vietnamese culture as a Vietnamese Canadian. She also thinks of it as an opportunity to challenge herself and develop stronger personal and professional skills.

Winning Miss Vietnam Toronto has been a blessing to Sonya and at press time she was delighted to be competing for the title of Miss Vietnam Canada 2017. Her upcoming goals are to make positive changes in the community, the lives of others, and to be an inspiration for Vietnamese youth. She plans to use her title as Miss Vietnam Toronto as a platform to share her ideas and beliefs with the community in hopes of creating positive change.