On June 8, 2014, Nia Sanchez was named Miss USA and became the first titleholder representing Nevada to bring home the crown. This past January, Nia competed against 87 other women from across the globe during the 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant and placed first runner-up representing the USA.
Born in California and most recently residing just minutes away from the famous Las Vegas Strip, Nia loves the thrill of traveling and has lived all over the world. After capturing the Miss USA crown, Nia relocated to New York City for the first time in her life where she will live during her reign. Raised in the small town of Menifee, California, Nia proved that beauty queens break stereotypes – and boards – when the world discovered she holds a fourth degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Part Mexican, part German, and quite the avid traveler, Nia has already added both countries to the list of places she has worked, visited or lived. During high school, Nia traveled to Mexico three different times to carry out mission trips with her church and afterwards headed to Germany to work as a nanny. Not someone to stay in one place for too long, Nia jumped at the opportunity to experience Abu Dhabi during an extended stay with the family she was working with. Additionally, the beauty has even held a position with a well-known theme park which brought her to live in Hong Kong, a city which she fell in love with and now compares to NYC.
Nia’s parents divorced when she was seven years old resulting in a financially vulnerable situation for her mother. The decision was made to bring Nia and her younger brother to live in a women’s shelter for several months during the transition. Nia’s mother was able to build her resume, confidence and the skills needed to return to the workforce and live comfortably on her own. Soon after, Nia went to live with her father where she was enrolled in a new grade school. This unfamiliar environment didn’t help socially as she was quickly labeled as the shy student in class.
Determined to break his daughter out of her shell, Nia’s father signed her up for Taekwondo classes – something that would change her life forever. After months of pleading during countless tantrums against attending class, Nia finally began to love the sport. “Taekwondo taught me a lot about myself; it gave me leadership skills and confidence, as well as a greater general awareness of everything around me,” says Nia. “I went from never wanting to be in class to begging my dad to bring me six days a week which prompted him to buy a studio of his own,” she adds. Nia would later go on to compete for national titles in the U.S. and eventually become a Taekwondo instructor herself. Her family’s studio is still owned and operated by her father in Southern California.
Shortly after winning Miss Nevada USA, Nia began to volunteer at a women’s shelter in Las Vegas. Although her own experience living in one was not due to domestic violence, many of the women there had gone through difficult situations of their own and Nia immediately felt a personal connection to them. With her background in martial arts, Nia began to realize how important it is for women to know self-defense and used her own knowledge to teach them what she is so passionate about. As Miss USA, Nia has spent her reign empowering women to learn self-defense in order to prevent and avoid harmful situations. Making regular school visits in the New York area, Nia teaches self-defense to students of all ages and encourages them to be self-confident in everything they do. Nia has shared escape techniques on national news programs including Live with Kelly and Michael and Fox and Friends, among others.
Aside from traveling, Nia likes being outdoors and taking part in any sporting activity that nature provides. She especially enjoys hiking – something she does often with her mother when she visits her in Washington State. Currently in search of the perfect book club, Nia loves to read and is never able to put a good book down once she starts. During her reign, Nia will be a spokesperson for breast and ovarian cancer education, prevention and awareness and works closely with organizations such as Gilda’s Club, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Project Sunshine, and Best Buddies, among others.