New to area, she's crowned

Lees Daryanne Garcia is the new Miss Tampa USA.

By Jessica Vander Velde, Times Staff Writer
Published March 7, 2008


Although Lees Daryanne Garcia just moved from Puerto Rico to the Tampa area, she's already representing the city.

Garcia, 21, of Valrico won the Miss Tampa USA pageant Saturday. She'll move on to the Miss Florida USA pageant in July.

"It's a really big change for me," she said. "You come here looking for opportunities, and I got my opportunity."

She has competed since she was 18, and she previously won pageants in Puerto Rico - including Miss Puerto Rico US 2007. Miss Tampa was her first competition in Florida. She moved to Valrico in December to live with her family and attends the University of South Florida.

Garcia wants to write for magazines and become Miss USA.

"I'm going to work harder than ever," she said. "I'm going to have to double the exercise and double the training and study vocabulary."

In the meantime, she's competing for a slot on a reality television show on the Spanish network Univision. She'll go to Miami on Sunday for the second round of auditions for Nuestra Belleza Latina - Our Latin Beauty - which is a serial version of a pageant, complete with interviews and talent contests.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or 813 661-2443.