Kaitlyn Rael was named the Eastern New Mexico University Reina on Sept. 20. The Reina, which is the Spanish word for queen, represents her culture at ENMU events throughout the year.
She chose to run for Reina because she thought it would be an "amazing way to represent my family and culture."
Before being named Reina, Kaitlyn made a poster showing her culture and how it was incorporated when she was growing up. It had "lots of personality" with lights and flowers. She also made a tres leches cake for all of the voters at the event to try and shared why she would make a "great Reina" with them.
She said she was "really surprised" to be chosen as Reina and that the achievement "means the world" to her.
"I attend as much as I can and schedule everything around it because I want to represent it well. I want to be someone young girls can look up to," explained Kaitlyn, who attends Hispanic Affairs and Multicultural Affairs events. "I love dressing up, wearing a tiara and going to learn about something amazing in our world. It is a real blessing.
Kaitlyn encourages future Reina candidates to "Be yourself! If you are not yourself, you will not stand out. Show who you really are and not what people expect you to be, then you are already halfway there."
The freshman, who is majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish, is in her first semester at ENMU.
She chose to attend Eastern because she is an "ENMU legacy. My grandma, mom, aunt and father all came here. I have been repping this school since I was born!"
Kaitlyn has found that "ENMU is a family. You will never be a number or statistic. You are a person, and the professors really work towards a reasonable, achievable goal with you. It makes this University a home."
She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and works for J.P. Stone Community Bank. Kaitlyn is from Portales and supports the town by participating in "park trash pickups and being a friendly neighbor and community member."
Her mom, Cristina Aldaz, previously taught elementary school in Portales, her sister is a student-athlete and her father, Gerald Rael, is active duty in the Army.
Kaitlyn wants to become a flight attendant and, eventually, a college professor. She also wants to provide free counseling to underprivileged families. Her ultimate career goal is to make a "strong difference in as many lives as I can. I want to leave a legacy for others to follow."
She hopes to have a husband, children and to "not be in debt."
For now, Kaitlyn feels "very honored to represent my family, my community and my school [as Reina]. I will try my best to reign with honor, pride and love."