Long Island native ready to walk the runway in pageant representing the Dominican Republic

A Central Islip native is hoping to grab the crown when she represents the Dominican Republic in the upcoming Reina Hispanoamericana Pageant in Bolivia next month.
"I am very proud of my heritage," says Karibel Perez. "This is why I have my crown and sash over my heart, because it truly is such a blessing to be a Latina from the Dominican Republic."
Perez says the road to beauty pageant success hasn't been easy. As a ninth grader at Central Islip High School, several modeling agencies rejected her applications because they said she was too heavy.
"I can only tell you how many times when I was younger, how many doors were closed due to how I looked or because my body wasn't the perfect weight or measurements," says Perez.
Perez says her involvement in the school's show choir and support from family helped give her the strength to rise above obstacles and chase her dreams.