CALALLEN - A normal work day turned extraordinary for Calallen senior Victoria (Tori) Morin. Morin was honored by her employer, HEB, for being crowned the queen of the 58th annual Feria De Las Flores pageant, which is sponsored by LULAC Council #1.

Morin walked in to the Calallen HEB, ready for an average day of work, but when she arrived, she was greeted by her co-workers, managers and the Calallen cheerleaders. The cheerleaders formed a tunnel that Morin walked through and on the other side, she found a reception in her honor.

In attendance were her parents, grandmother, HEB executives and fellow ‘partners’, a term that HEB uses to describe their employees.

The pageant, which has its origins in Medellin, Columbia, was first held in Corpus Christi as a way to empower and strengthen Hispanic women. The contestants are given community and business leadership training, as well as coached on their public speaking skills. The local LULAC council has awarded more than $850,000 through the pageant and is committed to helping young Hispanic women attain the skills they need to succeed in life.

“It is an honor to represent LULAC Council #1,” Morin said. “This council was the very first one and I am excited to see what the coming year holds.”

Morin has been employed at HEB for a year and is described as ‘always having a smile’ and ‘being a hard worker’. Traits which surely helped her to win the crown. Phil Smith, Unit Director for HEB, introduced Morin at her reception and said that she is well suited to her work at HEB and that she would surely use those traits to aid her in her future endeavors.

“When I interviewed her (Morin), I thought that she belonged at HEB. She has great customer service skills and is always very friendly,” Smith said.

In order to come out on top in the pageant, Morin had to beat 12 other contestants from the Coastal Bend region in a number of categories including a folklorico dance, beauty (both inside and out) and their learned knowledge of Mexico. Each contestant represented a Mexican state in the pageant. Morin represented the state of Aguascalientes.

“I was very nervous to perform the individual dance because the song for the state of Aguascalientes was changed in the pageant this year. I was the first one to dance to the song, which was Viva Aguascalientes. The people of that state are very proud and throw in gritos during the song, which is not something that I was used to,” Morin said.

Morin learned about the pageant in her school and through a friend whose cousin was involved in organizing it this year. She enjoyed getting to know her fellow contestants and put in a full year of dedication in order to obtain the crown. 

“We have been on a year-long journey. We have fed the homeless on the Fourth of July, been to city council meetings and met with other queens from our sister cities,” said Arnold Morin, Victoria’s father, as he addressed the crowd at his daughter’s reception.

Victoria echoed her father’s sentiments when she said that the aspect of the Feria De Las Flores pageant that surprised her most was the community involvement aspect.

“I was most surprised that the pageant was more about the community than the individuals. I had always wanted to know more about city issues and what was really going on. I wanted to be more involved than the average teenager,” Morin said.

Morin has been given the opportunity to meet foreign dignitaries, celebrities and the head of the LULAC organization and has been able to see the impact that the organization has on local communities. Her duties as queen involve representing her local LULAC council in various parades and at various functions, including the annual Cesar Chavez March and Celebration. Beyond her duties as queen, Morin is in her senior year of school, meaning she has been having to sort out her future plans. But that’s not a problem for this driven young lady. She plans to follow the example of military service set by her father and join the Air Force immediately upon her graduation. 

She has always loved working on things and wants to get involved with working on airplanes. In order to accomplish this goal, she plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin and major in Aerospace Engineering, all while being an active duty Air Force service member.

“I hope that through my reign as queen that I can bring change and do important things to help the Hispanic community in any way I can,” Morin said. 

Morin’s future seems to be flying high and with these goals within her reach and her family and employer behind her, her dreams can soar as high as the planes she wishes to build.