The Bachelor is officially back for season 25. The fan-favorite reality dating competition will see 32 women compete to win the heart of the very first Black bachelor, Matt James (via Glamour). Each of the ladies competing is bringing something special to the table, and 24-year-old Mariela ‘Mari’ Pepin is no exception. If Pepin looks familiar to you, it’s because you may have seen her on television before. She who was born and raised in Puerto Rico before coming to the U.S. as a teen according to her ABC bio, and has seen some success in the pageant world.
As a teen, Pepin competed in Miss Teen USA, according to The Washingtonian. She was able to secure the title of Miss Maryland Teen USA in 2014 and represented the state in the Miss Teen USA competition, but didn’t win. However, she was determined and didn’t give up. In 2019, she became one of six women in Maryland history to win both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA in the state, according to her pageant bio. She later went on to compete in Miss USA 2019, where she finished in the top 10.
Pepin is also really accomplished outside of the pageant circuit. She is a native Spanish speaker, who has also taken time to learn French and American Sign Language, per Pageant Update. Her father was in the Army, so The Bachelor contestant moved around quite a bit before settling down in Maryland. She attended Meade Senior High School, where she doubled up on classes and focused on her GPA, allowing her to graduate a year early (via The Capital Gazette).
Mari Pepin is not only beautiful, she's smart
From there, Pepin went on to Towson University and graduated with a degree in communications (via Baltimore Sun). She’s now working as a marketing director, and even struck out with a project of her own. According to her Instagram, she started up her own social media management company, Inovessa.
The versatile beauty also knows the importance of giving back. After developing a love for volunteer work in high school, she decided to travel on a mission trip back to Puerto Rico. The Towerlight reports that while there, she helped rebuild homes and spoke with families whose lives were changed by Hurricane Maria.
Pepin is clearly at a very successful place in her life and she’s looking for someone to share it all with. Her ABC bio says she dreams of having kids and continuing her already-impressive career while taking care of her family, so she’s looking for a man who can handle her dreams of having it all.
We’ll have to tune in to see if James ends up being that man, but Pepin did leave a little hint on her Instagram for her followers. She shared a still of her and James holding hands after the first meeting. “The first of many magical moments,” she captioned the shot. If that picture is any indication, it’s clear there’s a spark there. Let’s see if it sets love aflame!
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