Engineering major combines brains, beauty on path to success

Brenda Soto

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Brenda Soto is the whole package – brains, beauty and a humble attitude that has taken her from a small town in Mexico to life in the spotlight as a prominent role model for the Latina community.

Soto’s family made the decision to move to Arizona to pursue a better life and quality education. The move paid off as she is now studying civil engineering at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She plans to become a structural engineer and work on bridges and building infrastructure.

Earlier this year she was crowned Miss Arizona Latina, a pageant competition that celebrates Latina beauty and culture in both the state and the nation.

Before she took the crown, Soto went through weeks of rigorous training that included etiquette classes, fitness classes and runway and interviewing techniques. During this time, she also had to juggle studying for her finals.

“The coronation was really nerve-wracking. I was shocked when I won because there were 32 other girls in the competition. I had previously done some modeling as a hobby, but never anything like this,” she said.

After the Miss Arizona Latina pageant, Soto went on to compete in the Miss United States Latina competition. She didn’t win, but describes the ordeal as “life changing,” nonetheless. She says she enjoyed being around a group of girls who shared similar dreams and values.

“It helped me grow both personally and professionally into a more well-round individual,” she said.

The Miss Arizona Latina Organization holds a series of community service events throughout the year. Earlier this year, Soto took part in a school supply fundraiser for young children in need.

Being in the spotlight has given her the opportunity to act as a positive role model for young Latina girls.

“A lot of girls will message me on Facebook and say they look up to me. Seeing me succeed has given them hope that they can accomplish their dreams. It inspires me to be the best I can,” she said.

This spring, the ASU junior will travel to San Diego with the Concrete Canoe team to present at a conference sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. She is also searching for an internship to gain hands-on training in the field.