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Morgan Hooten

Fifteen-year-old Morgan Hooten of Artesia knew she had a talent for singing – it’s what prompted her family to encourage her to participate in a local Cinderella pageant.

But as it turns out, Hooten has another talent, as well: winning pageants.

After taking top honors at the local level, Hooten advanced to the New Mexico State Overall Cinderella competition, where she once again earned the crown. Now, she’ll head to Dallas, Texas, next month for the 2017 International Cinderella Scholarship Pageant with thousands of dollars in scholarship money on the line.

Hooten’s mother, Krista Oosthuizen, says her husband, Torrie Oosthuizen, first noticed the local Cinderella pageant online.

“He was on a Facebook garage sale site and saw there was going to be a pageant in Artesia for Eddy County,” Oosthuizen says. “My daughter sings, and we like to get her to go on stage whenever we can for practice.”

After winning that event, Hooten found herself designated to represent Eddy County at the state level.

“We thought again, ‘OK, we’re just going to do this for fun, no big deal,’ because Morgan had never in her life been in pageants before,” Oosthuizen laughs. “She had no clue what she was doing.”

As Hooten and her family soon discovered, however, she must be a natural, as she prevailed at state, as well, to earn the title of Cinderella New Mexico Overall Teen.

She’ll now be tasked with representing the entire state next month in Dallas.

“It’s been fun,” Oosthuizen says. “She’s gaining a lot of confidence from it, and it’s been a good experience for her with her voice and talent also.”

Hooten, the second of six children – Maison Hooten, 18, Maddox Ganaway, 10, Tristan Oosthuizen, 4, and Luke and Liam Oosthuizen, 2 – and an incoming sophomore at Artesia High School, is now seeking sponsors to help her make the trip to Dallas to participate in the pageant.

Donations are needed by July 5; anyone interested in aiding Hooten on her journey may contact Oosthuizen at 575-691-8985.