Port Neches-Groves sophomore from Latvia talks excitement as 2022 Miss Port Neches

Published 12:30 am Sunday, April 24, 2022

Nelly Hooper is excited to attend RiverFest and meet the community as 2022 Miss Port Neches.

It’s a festival she’s attended before, but not as often as many, seeing as how she’s only been in the U.S. for three years.

At the age of 14, the Port Neches-Groves High School sophomore was in foster care in Latvia when a Mid County family adopted her. It was a life-changing move in more ways than one.

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“This school — I love the school here,” she said when talking about things she’s enjoyed most since emigrating. “All the spirit here and everything; it’s my favorite.”

READ MORE: Check out the RiverFest Schedule of Events; fun begins Wednesday.

Hooper arrived from Europe shortly before enrolling as a freshman. And while she speaks Latvian and Russian, she did not know English.

But the teen who also works part time for Market Basket in Port Neches learned quickly, as she did when she began playing the guitar — one of her favorite hobbies.

Pageants, however, have given her more than just opportunity.

“I love every pageant I do because I get to meet new girls,” Hooper said. “Sometimes I do a different pageant with them, so I already know somebody. I just love doing my makeup and hair and getting dressed. It’s all so exciting.”

Nelly Hooper, recently crowned Miss Port Neches 2022, is a sophomore at Port Neches-Groves High School. (Photo courtesy of Leo Weeks Photographers)

Her first pageant was 2021 Miss Port Neches. Since, she’s participated in five others, winning the Miss Texas Heart of Beauty pageant.

“I really liked it so I just kept doing it,” she said.

And while not her first win, Hooper said being chosen as Miss Port Neches on April 2 was the most exciting.

“I did not expect it at all,” she recalled. “I was just super excited and so happy. I didn’t have words; I was so shocked.”

Back at school, Hooper maintains her grades and said her favorite subject is math. That, in part, is because of her teacher. But it has also helped sway her possible future career.

Hooper planned to attend Texas A&M and study psychology. But now she’s considering a career in education.

“I’d like to be a teacher at PNG,” she said. “It seems like a fun job.”

However, if she does go into education, it will be to teach younger students.

“I always wanted to work with children,” she said. “I babysit sometimes. And I feel like a psychologist for kids or a teacher would be the perfect job.”

In addition to pageants and her work, Hooper is also an active member of her church youth group.

2022 Pageant Winners:

Petite Miss Port Neches Bostyn Pardue

Young Miss Port NechesCarrington Sullivan

Junior Miss Port Neches Kynlee Vasquez

Future Miss Port Neches Kensley Gray

Miss Port Neches Nelly Hooper