An Interview with Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, Miss Teen USA 2017

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, Miss Missouri Teen USA 2017, competes as a top 15 finalist in her evening gown during The MISS TEEN USA®

Miss Missouri Teen USA Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, 17, freshman at the University of Kansas, was picked by a handful of judges after a series of events including an interview, an evening gown presentation and an athletic wear competition. Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff beat out 50 other contestants representing 49 other states plus the District of Columbia.

She shared one of her biggest accomplishments with the judges, which was lobbying the Missouri Legislature on issues related to supporting people with disabilities.  

Missouri Magazine: Please tell us about yourself.
Sophia: I’m so proud to be born and raised in Missouri. I’m a hard worker, in and out of school, allowing me to graduate early and receive the Girls Scouts Gold Award. I dedicate a lot of my time to organizations that support people who have disabilities and also worked alongside Missouri state legislators to create policies that provide them with the best quality care. I just began my first week at the University of Kansas and plan to pursue a degree in Political Science and Ethics. I’m so excited to finally be on campus and meet new people!

Missouri Magazine: What do you like to do in your free time?
Sophia: In my free time, I am an avid reader, specifically nonfiction books including American and World history. I also love to support our Kansas City sports teams!

Missouri Magazine: What’s next for you, where would you like to go in your career?
Sophia: For now, I plan to obtain my 4-year degree in Political Science and Ethics and eventually purse a law career to help influence public policy.

Missouri Magazine: What inspired you to compete in your first pageant?
Sophia: Pageants give me an opportunity to share the many positives facets of being a woman. Women need to have a strong voice on relevant issues and I needed to be heard on my passion for issues on justice and inclusion. I learned at an early age that adults with developmental disabilities have a very difficult life and I want to work to improve their conditions.

Missouri Magazine: Tell us about the Miss Missouri Teen USA competition.
Sophia: I was encouraged to enter Miss Missouri Teen USA by a middle school teacher and by the current Miss Missouri USA. With the strong support I received from my parents, I felt confident to compete. The contestants I met were wonderful young women, and it led to many life-long friendships. I am so fortunate and honored to represent my state as Miss Teen USA.

Missouri Magazine: Tell us about Miss Teen USA competition.
Sophia: I became very close to all of the young women competing in Miss Teen USA and it was easy because we all had a common ground – a passion to use our platform to give back. The days leading up to the competition consisted of long hours at events, shoots, and rehearsals. I couldn’t believe at the end of the show that I was hand and hand with Vanessa, Miss Oregon Teen USA. When I heard ‘Missouri’, I was in complete shock and was immediately overwhelmed with love and support. I still think about that moment in disbelief.

Missouri Magazine: What evening gown did you choose for the Miss Teen USA competition?
Sophia: I competed in a silk, peacock blue Sherri Hill evening gown.

Missouri Magazine: What was your interview question for Miss Teen USA?
Sophia: During the interview portion of the competition, I was asked about the Girl Scouts Gold Award and what leadership values I displayed. 

Missouri Magazine: What does it mean to you to represent Teens across America?
Sophia: It’s an honor to represent all teens across the US. I plan to spread a message of inclusion, and hope that other teens can join in on the action.

Missouri Magazine: How has participating in Miss Teen USA changed your life?
Sophia: It has been an incredible experience so far, and I still have so much more to look forward to. The first week after I was crowned, I hopped on a flight to New York City to begin my media tour. It was an exciting experience and opportunity to engage with people about who I am and what my goals are. A state of normality returned, but I look forward to an exciting year as both Miss Teen USA and a college freshman.

Missouri Magazine: What appearances do you plan to make as Miss Teen USA?
Sophia: I plan to be the voice for adults with developmental disabilities and to support the charitable organizations in my region and beyond.

Missouri Magazine: Tell us about your road to Miss Teen USA?
Sophia: My road to Miss Teen USA has been nothing but an encouraging experience from my friends and family. As Miss Missouri Teen USA, I wanted to make sure that my state was proud of me and the challenge is greater now that I represent the nation.

Missouri Magazine: What was the most challenging aspect of the Miss Teen USA competition?
Sophia: Balancing life has been the most challenging aspect. It’s easy to get pulled in many directions, but in the end you must be true to yourself.

Missouri Magazine: What does your crown mean to you?
Sophia: Having the title Miss Teen USA means that you must set goals. You must be grounded and have big dreams for your community. The crown is symbol of womanhood and the brilliant ideas that women have. To me it means to do good, cherish the small things and celebrate every day.

Missouri Magazine: Do you have a personal quote you live by?
Sophia: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Missouri Magazine: What’s a typical day for you?
Sophia: A typical day for me is classes, reading and more reading. I’m living the college student life now and since I’ve arrived, I’ve called my family every day and met many new friends. So far, I love the college experience!  

Missouri Magazine: What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?
Sophia: I want to leave a legacy that celebrates people because I believe that everyone brings a gift to friendship.

Missouri Magazine: What advice can you give teens who are intimidated by all the glam on social media and struggle with self
Sophia: My advice to teens that struggle with self confidence: Be yourself, be truthful and be a good friend.

Missouri Magazine: How can fans follow you?
Sophia: You can follow my journey as Miss Teen USA on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram at @MissTeenUSA.

Missouri Magazine: Anything else you would like to share?
Sophia: I am excited to be in this role and I look forward to making a difference!