Miss NY USA
As a small girl, Heather Nunez had big dreams. One of her biggest dreams, that at times felt unattainable, was to make it to the Miss Universe stage. She is currently on the path to proving that sometimes your wildest dreams can come true!
Heather is Dominican-American, born and raised in New York. She grew up visiting the Dominican Republic every year to see her family who still lived in the country. From a young age, Heather was fully aware of the vast differences between the opportunities available to those living in the Dominican Republic opposed to the United States. As a citizen of the US she became determined to utilize the opportunities afforded to her and bring honor to her family. At the age of 9 her father was deported and she was forced to move to Sugar Hill to live with her grandmother, single mother, and older sister in a small, two bedroom apartment where they struggled to make ends meet. Heather vowed to work hard and stay focused in school to be able to someday help her family.
Heather witnessed domestic violence in her household from a young age. At the age of 15 the cycle unfortunately continued outside of her home as she found herself in an abusive relationship. She was abused for three years. Heather was desperate to regain her independence by leaving the relationship but her abuser was determined to keep their power over her. After many attempts to detach herself from her abuser, Heather was left no choice but to reach out to law enforcement for help.
After successfully ending the abusive relationship, Heather was motivated to use her life experiences to help others. She chose to study Criminal Justice to allow her to work in a field that can help those who are victims of domestic violence just as she was. She went on to study at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and obtained a Bachelor of Science honors degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Cyber Crime. After sharing her story she learned that many other friends and family had experienced similar traumatic events and she vowed to become a voice for those women who are afraid to speak up or lack the knowledge or resources to do so.
Heather quickly became an inspiration for so many women who shared similar life experiences with her and began spending most of her time volunteering and donating to survivors. At the age of 20, Heather continued living with her single mother and helped raise her baby sister. She learned how to be a nurturing caretaker and made a commitment to herself to be a role-model for her younger sister. She pledged to teach young girls ways to protect themselves and utilize the available resources to end their abuse.
In 2020, Heather decided to take the first step to achieving one of her life-long dreams. She registered to compete for Miss New York USA to allow her a platform to share her story. Being her first pageant and having no experience or training, she was elated to have placed 3rd runner-up. She came back prepared the following year in 2021 and placed 1st runner-up. She decided to try once again and on June 4th, 2022 at the age of 26 Heather was crowned Miss New York USA. She attributes her win to a culmination of personal growth, preparation, and the desire to make a difference in the life of others. She wants this title to be a testimony for all of her hardships and to reflect that hard work pays off, but most importantly a reminder that she never lost faith.
She wants women to know that life will have obstacles and it can be hard to speak up or ask for help, but it is important to believe in yourself. Heather feels we all deserve the best life possible and deserve to be happy. She wants to help women restore faith in themselves and be resilient in the face of adversity. She shares this message so well because she knows the depths of depression and what fear truly feels like. Heather is proud to share her story because her life is living proof that one can achieve anything they set their mind to, as long as they push through and work hard.
Heather is a humble and kind-hearted soul. She enjoys writing poetry and taking karate classes. She spends most of her time with family and close friends and she loves to watch disney movies with her baby sister. Her favorite memories growing up were made when she was visiting the Dominican Republic; especially fond memories were the countless times the electricity would go out and she and her cousins would huddle up together and share old family stories until it was restored.
Heather would describe her journey to the title of Miss New York USA as a remarkable one because every year she came back she was more prepared and even more eager to share her story. She feels her life is a dream come true and her purpose is to continue touching the lives of minorities and survivors to encourage them to keep pursuing their dreams.
Heather plans to use the title of Miss New York USA 2022 to continue inspiring women in low-income communities who feel their goals are unattainable. She is dedicated to sharing her progress, in order to give hope to those who need it. Heather is proud to represent the state of New York at Miss USA 2022 and truly believes she was placed in this position to help make the positive change she wishes to see in the world.
- Started modeling at 5 years old
- Has a dog named Zoey
- Loves rollercoasters
- Is bilingual (speak Spanish and English)
- Favorite food is pasta
- Favorite subject in college was law
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