MARCH 31, 1997
Heather Christine Gastelum, Mrs. Washington 1996-97.
Photo courtesy of PSM Models, Inc.
by Deborah Stone
Recently, beauty pageants for young girls have been receiving much negative press all over the U.S. It is refreshing to learn of one pageant at the other end of the age spectrum that attempts to promote married women as strong, independent, and intellectual individuals.
The Mrs. Washington United States competition seeks to spotlight married women with careers, outside interests, and home lives and those who strive towards helping others in a myriad of ways. The current 1996-97 title is held by Woodinville resident Heather Christine Gastelum, crowned last May at the state competition in Yakima.
Originally from California, Heather grew up in a family of two girls and four foster children who her parents took into their home and made part of the family. Her understanding of the importance of strong family values grew from her home life, and the encouragement her parents provided helped motivate her to succeed in her endeavors.
Heather is an accomplished equestrian who has competed actively since age five. She has managed boarding facilities, taught equitation, and worked with youth riding programs to share the knowledge and experience she has acquired over the years. Employed full-time for Sprint PCS as a Wireless Implementation Engineer in Bellevue, she spends most of her spare time with her horses as an active member of the Washington Barrel Racing Association and as assistant to the Region 5 director for the National Barrel Horse Association. She is married to Chris Gastelum.
Why did Heather enter the competition? She responds, "Someone called my attention to it and I liked the idea of being able to promote women in a positive and strong way, so I entered it." The most difficult part for her was the panel interview, because she knew the expectations of the judges were high as they were looking for articulate women with clear messages.
As Mrs. Washington, Heather has made appearances at promotions and fund raising events. Locally, she has been involved with the annual Ride-A-Thon at Little Bit in Woodinville. She hopes to do more community and charity work before her reign ends in late May.