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Monday, March 20, 2023

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Inserra was crowned on her birthday, June 28. Inserra was crowned on her birthday, June 28.

Miss California Has Aztec Roots

Marina Inserra, '13, was crowned Miss California in June.
By Hallie Jacobs

Marina Inserra, '13, is a theater-lover, philanthropist, celebrated vocalist and Aztec for Life. The Renaissance woman recently added another accolade to her resume: Miss California.

"It's still surreal to me," the recent San Diego State University graduate said. "I've watched the pageant for many years, so to finally receive the crown myself was incredible."

Inserra competed in the Miss California pageant in late June against 53 other hopefuls. Three years ago she placed in the top five and last year she placed in the top 10. After years of hard work and fine-tuning her talent — singing — Inserra brought home the coveted title.

Life on the Mesa

Inserra was admitted to SDSU in 2009 through Compact for Success Program, a partnership between the Sweetwater Union High School District and SDSU that supports student success by connecting students to the resources of the campus community.

Inserra at graduation
Inserra graduated from SDSU in 2013.

With a passion for performance, she decided to pursue a theater degree with an emphasis in performance. 

"I started doing pageants in high school and was instantly hooked," she said. "I won the Miss San Diego Outstanding Teen title, which is a subsidiary of Miss California."

Inserra credits her ability to perform on stage to her training and experience in SDSU's theater program.

"I really enjoyed my experience at San Diego State University," Inserra said. "The theater program was incredible — it's full of talented people. I still stay in contact with my theater friends, and some of them have been to my pageants to cheer me on."

Inserra auditioned for the production "Into the Woods" as a freshman and was the youngest cast member in the show. Her theater career at SDSU also featured roles in numerous productions.

She was also a member of the Delta Zeta sorority.

An altruistic leader

Inserra's favorite aspect in pageantry is the focus on serving the community.

Through her platform — breast cancer awareness — she was selected as a spokesperson and volunteer for Susan G. Komen, San Diego and has raised more than $12,000 for breast cancer research and support. She has also volunteered hundreds of hours to the cause.

“It’s very rewarding to go out and help other people,” she said. "When people think of pageants they think of the negatives and what they see on television. It's so much more than that — we do a lot of community engagement."

An Aztec for Life

Inserra is grateful for her time on the Mesa.

"SDSU gave me so much — a multitude of opportunities to perform, a network of people that helped me get to where I am; a fun, relaxed environment; beautiful campus and encouraging environment filled with professors who want you to be involved and follow your passions," she said.

Inserra is preparing for the Miss America pageant taking place in Atlantic City on September 14.

"I want to make our state proud," she said. "And I want to make SDSU proud!"

Though the future is bright for Inserra, she will never lose touch with her Aztec roots. 

"I love being an Aztec," she said. "SDSU is my home."