Beauty pageants were the last thing on 18-year-old Bleidy Bucuru Leon’s mind, growing up amidst some of the worst violence of Colombia’s armed conflict, but she has risen from her troubled background to be named the country’s National Rice Queen.
When she was only eight, Miss Bucuru Leon and her family were forced from their home in the central Colombian department of Meta, a place torn by guerrilla warfare.
“We had to leave because of the conflict … we had to run from the bullets,” she told El Tiempo.
The family moved to Granada to escape the violence, and her parents struggled to make enough money to support their children.
However, the young Colombian’s luck began to change when in 2008 she won the race to become her high school’s prom princess.
At that moment Miss Bucuru Leon realized she could achieve success as a beauty queen.
After graduating from high school the accolades poured in for the Colombian stunner. She was named National Queen of Tourism in the department of Cundinamarca’s “Beautiful and Talented” competition and, the following year, beat sixteen other girls to become the 23rd National Rice Queen.
Bleidy Bucuru Leon was glowing with pride to wear her scepter and crown.
“I never thought I’d be queen,” she beamed, “I love the country life … it makes me extremely happy.”
The young beauty queen said she hopes she can be an inspiration for people who have found themselves in similar situations to hers.