TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The coronavirus pandemic has forced people to become creative and rely heavily on digital platforms like Zoom.

So, it was no surprise when 24-year-old Tampa resident, Leila Sabet, found herself competing in the first-ever, virtual Miss America preliminary pageant in Florida.

“I competed virtually through Zoom for Miss Florida Citrus 2020 on June 13,” Sabet said. “I did have to use my garage for that space. It was so interesting. Preparing virtually for this looked a lot different than how I usually prepare for a local pageant. So, this time it was less about my spacing on a stage and more about how I was going to space myself through a screen from a two-dimensional standpoint.”

Sabet competed in various stages including presenting her social impact initiative, Lift & Be Uplifted: Increasing Women’s Influence in the Professional World and her on-stage talent, traditional Persian dancing.

“As far as my personal social impact initiative goes, my organization is called Lift & Be Uplifted: Increasing Women’s Influence in the Professional World. So, I work in a male dominant field for the number one fastest-growing company in the world. So, I see the direct effects of how influential women’s voices can be from that leadership standpoint. And I’m traditional Persian dancer. So, I’ve been able to represent not only young females in the professional world but also Middle Eastern Americans,” said Sabet. 

Sabet, a manager in operations for an Amazon fulfillment center in Tampa, ultimately went on to win Miss Florida Citrus 2020. She was virtually announced the winner with her family by her side.

“It was definitely quiet, especially when they announced my name. Usually, there’s an audience. So, I had my sister and my mom and my dad, and they were kind of like, ‘go Leila!’” Sabet said.  

Next June, the Florida State University graduate, and Real Talk Ambassador will compete in the Miss Florida Pageant, the preliminary pageant to Miss America. But first, Sabet tells WFLA.com, she has big plans as Miss Florida Citrus 2020. 

“I will represent the citrus industry of Florida,” said Sabet. “I’ll actually be piloting a program with the Nutrients for Life Organization throughout the state of Florida with the current Miss Florida, Michaela McLean, who’s a good friend of mine. We will partner this year to go into schools and hopefully reach hundreds of thousands of students and educate them on the nutrients that orange juice can provide.”

To learn more about Leila Sabet and to follow her journey, visit her on social media.