LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Cecilia Rodriguez admits it feels like a lifetime since she was crowned Miss New Mexico USA in January.
"I was so on top of my training, so on top of my diets, even though I did want to cheat every now and then," she laughed.
For months this year, she didn't know if the Miss USA Pageant would even happen.
"Once we got the finalized date, it was like, 'Okay, this is go time!" Rodriguez said. "This is happening, finally!"
Starting Monday, she begins her week in quarantine. Rodriguez said she must get tested before she leaves and after she arrives in Tennessee.
"I don't think there's any need to be concerned as far as having a pageant right now in a pandemic, just because I have so much trust in the Miss Universe organization," she explained. "My hands are actually so dry right now from washing them so often!"
However, if she tests positive, she said the Miss Universe organization could send her home.
"If that does happen, I'm just going to stuff my face," she said with a laugh. "I'm not going to lie to you. It's been too long since I've had pizza or cake or anything."
The 28-year-old California native is passionate about education as a bilingual head start preschool teacher in Mesquite. She is also ecstatic to represent New Mexico on the national stage.
"I've been working at this since I was 16!" she said. "Just to be able to have New Mexico across my chest and to represent the state so proudly means the world to me."
The Miss USA Pageant airs November 9th on FYI. Rodriguez said the girls are required to wear masks on stage. She also said there will be 300 audience members (including her father and brother) in an auditorium that can hold 1,000.