Say hello to Nia Sanchez: She’s traveled to 13 countries, loves Mexican food and Katy Perry, and with her fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do — we don’t think you’d want to run into her in a dark alley.
Did we forget to mention that the 24-year-old former Miss Nevada will represent the United States at this year’s Miss Universe pageant?
Sanchez, a Las Vegas model, was crowned Miss USA in a characteristically glitzy ceremony at the The Baton Rouge River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, edging out runner-up Miss North Dakota for the diamond-encrusted crown. Veteran pageant host Giuliana Rancic and MSNBC News anchor Thomas Roberts introduced the 51 contestants before a panel of celebrity judges –including actress Rumer Willis, NBA star Karl Malone, former boy bander Lance Bass and 90210′s Ian Ziering — whittled the field down to six finalists.
After high school, Nia moved to Europe to be a nanny. She eventually made her way to the Middle East, Austria and Switzerland! She was bitten by the pageant bug in 2009, when her friend Kristen Dalton won the Miss USA title. She has since competed both domestically and internationally.
After wowing in the swimsuit and talent portions of the competition, Sanchez seemed to cinch the win with a straightforward answer about the epidemic of sexual assault on American college campuses.
“Recently, Time magazine revealed that 19% of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug so long and what can colleges do to combat this?”
Sanchez believes women should be able to defend themselves as a way to battle the problem of campus rape.
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it’s swept under the rug, because they don’t want it to come out in public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth degree black belt (in Tae Kwon Do), I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something we need to implement for a lot of women.”
College administrators might also consider sensitivity training for sexual predators who struggle with the concept of “No Means No.”