Larissa Leon, a Sunnyside student who created a colorful Folklorico flower gown out of duct tape, won the top prize in a $10,000 national scholarship contest.

Duck Tape brand’s “Stuck at Prom” scholarship contest awarded $10,000 each to dress and tuxedo category winners.

Leon used 47 rolls of duct tape and spent 163 hours creating the Folklorico-inspired dress as an homage to her Mexican culture.


Larissa Leon, 17, poses for a portrait in her ranchero dress, a traditional Mexican dress designed for Folklorico dancers, that is entirely made out of duct tape Monday, June 28, 2021, at her home in Sunnyside, Wash.

Leon said she woke up screaming on Wednesday when she saw an email in her inbox that said she won.

“Honestly, I’m very shocked because when I started the project, I just did it to do it and never thought anything of it,” Leon said. “Now that I’ve won and received so much support from the community, I’m very grateful and excited.”

Leon is grateful for everyone who voted for her as a finalist in the contest.

“If it wasn’t for everyone who voted, I don’t think I would have won,” she said.

At first, Leon only told her parents and close friends that she was making the dress, but then Sunnyside School District posted photos on Facebook and media picked up the story.

“I got tremendous support from my community and so many people from the valley saying that they loved my dress,” she said.


Flower designs made from duct tape are seen on Larissa Leon’s ranchero dress, a traditional Mexican dress designed for Folklorico dancers, Monday, June 28, 2021, at her home in Sunnyside, Wash.

Leon said winning the award has given her new confidence in herself and her artistic abilities.

“I’ve been doubtful of myself, so seeing that so many people like one of my designs is crazy to me because I never thought (winning) would be something that would be possible. It feels good to have reassurance in my art,” she said.

She plans to use the $10,000 for her education and get closer to her dream of becoming a dermatologist.

She will graduate from Sunnyside High School in 2022 with an associate in arts degree from Yakima Valley College’s Running Start program. She plans to pursue medical school after graduation and has a dream of attending University of California Los Angeles or University of Washington.

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