Why She’s Interesting: In the field of female empowerment, there seems to be no stopping Cuevas. After spending three-fourths of her life in the fashion industry, she owns her own modeling company, supports Hispanic high school and post-secondary students through her work with nonprofit Esperanza Inc. and is this year’s 2020 Ms. Galaxy Puerto Rico.
Self Starter: Growing up in the mountainous city of Utuado, Puerto Rico, Cuevas entered her first rose-laden pageant, the Fiesta Patronales, at age 15, where she placed second. Until she relocated to Cleveland in her mid-20s, Cuevas cut her teeth on Utuado’s runways and studied at pricey etiquette training courses — all at her parents’ insistence, despite financial setbacks. “Now, I look back and know they couldn’t afford them, but those sacrifices made me who I am today.”
A Leg Up: Cuevas works as an assistant director of programs at Esperanza Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of Hispanic educational achievements. While assisting with its annual Fiesta of Hope, which awards more than 100 scholarships to college-bound Hispanic students, Cuevas acts as a mentor. “I tell them, ‘You’re always coming from the outside. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been here.’ ”
Grade Above: Last year, Cuevas revamped the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center’s Miss Puerto Rico Image as the Miss Latina Image program. Under her leadership, the six-monthslong educational program included participants outside the Puerto Rican diaspora for the first time, welcoming girls from El Salvador to Peru. The change was initiated to more accurately represent the expanding demographics of Cleveland’s Latin neighborhoods. “I thought, One girl not registering is one girl not taking advantage of the program.”
Project Runway: Cuevas collaborates with organizations such as 78th Street Studios and the Cleveland Museum of Art to expose her Miss Latina students to different experiences. From personal development, to cultural awareness and public speaking, Cuevas’ role serves to usher in Latina youth into budding womanhood. “Our program is just six months, but a sisterhood lasts a lifetime.”
In her spare time, you’ll find Cuevas hiking throughout the Cuyahoga Valley National Park or Hocking Hills.
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