Veena Goel, a 22-year-old from Laguna Hills, was named Miss California on Saturday night in Fresno, winning the right to compete in the Miss America Pageant.
Goel, a UCLA graduate and Miss Southland 2004, was one of 12 Orange County women out of 48 contestants seeking to compete in Atlantic City, N.J., on Sept. 18.
Goel, who once suffered from an eating disorder, championed the cause of eating-disorder awareness and education during the competition. She plans to pursue a career as a sports nutritionist.
Christie Youssef of Newport Coast, a Santa Barbara college student who wants to become a pediatric heart surgeon, finished fifth. Youssef is Miss Central California and the only other local woman to finish in the top five.
Eight Orange County cities have pageants that link to the Miss California contest. A countywide pageant, as well as regional contests such as the Miss Southland pageant, also provide contenders for the state competition.