PHOENIX (Good Morning Arizona) -- Behind powerful punches and crushing kicks is a beauty queen who is breaking barriers. Yesenia Vidales Islas is your new Miss Arizona 2020.
"My knees gave out; my palms were sweaty, and, honestly, it felt like I was floating," she said, recalling the moment she knew she won. "I don't know if that makes sense, but it didn't feel real; it felt like a dream."
But the dream wasn't to just win Miss Arizona. It was to add to the rich history of the organization. Islas is the first Spanish-speaking titleholder in history and the first Latina to win in 11 years. "I see people on social media I've never met send me messages about how they feel inspired and how they are touched they have someone representing them, never thinking that would happen," Islas said.
[WATCH: "There's always a way."]
The road to becoming Miss Arizona wasn't easy. Growing up in humble beginnings helped the 23-year-old learn to push through her struggles and remain determined to achieve her dreams. She explained how her parents, specifically her Mom, made sacrifices for her. "My mom actually cleaned a dance studio so I could take classes there," she said. "We did that exchange and still cleans the studio to this day."
It was those humble beginnings that shaped who she is, building the young beauty to be brave in a business that can sometimes be brutal. "I was around a bunch of girls that had really expensive gowns," she said. "They had the most expensive everything and I didn't. I had to rent my gown the first time I competed and used shoes I bought that were $20 shoes instead of $100 shoes. For a long time, I didn't talk about it because I didn't want to feel excluded."
Those experiences have led to her Miss Arizona platform -- inspiring those who are less fortunate. "I know that there are so many people out there going through the same thing that I went through," she said. "I want to show people that even if you don't come from money or don't have the means to go after what you want, you can still accomplish it, there's always a way."
And it might have been that platform and message that separated her from the rest of the contestants. "After the pageant, the judges told me that Yesenia had an 'IT' factor," Britt Powell, the executive director of Miss Arizona, said. "They were drawn to her on stage and loved watching her, but when they saw her in the interview room and got to know her, and she really showed them who she really is, they knew they had to pick her. She showed her heart; she wasn't afraid to show and share things."
For now, Islas is back working out at Hard Knock's Gym with her trainer, fighting toward her next dream of competing in the Miss USA competition.
"Of course you have to go to the gym. You have to practice your speaking skills," she said. "You have to be a kind person, and you can prepare for that. But I think if you have a healthy mental space, that's really what's important."
Trainer Arturo Ortega is impressed with Islas. "She's extremely mentally and physically tough," he said. "She is one who doesn't give up on anything. She keeps pursuing whatever she's driven for. She will just rock right through it."
But as she moves forward in the competition and life in general, she is only looking back to see how far she has come in fulfilling her dreams. "So, I think that it's pretty cool looking back, seeing that my dad, at one point, lived in poverty, to now we're going to be on the biggest stage in the country for pageantry. It's amazing to see how anything really is possible."