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‘The Bachelor’: Odenton resident to compete for Matt James’ heart this season

There will be tears, screaming fights, maybe even a drink or two thrown. Someone will almost certainly speculate that one of her competitors isn’t there for the right reasons. If we’re lucky, someone else will proclaim that she didn’t come here to make friends.

That’s right: “The Bachelor” will be returning to television next week.

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This time around, Odenton marketing director Mariela “Mari” Pepin will be among the 32 women vying for the adoration of this season’s bachelor: A 32-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder from New York City named Matt James.

The rules of the game are simple. Contestants must flirt and charm the freaking socks off the bachelor in question or risk being sent home, rose-less and ring-less. The stakes are high: The victor has a chance at a marriage proposal from James himself, a man described on the season’s promotional poster as “A Matt Made In Heaven.”

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Before they are eliminated — or (swoon) marry James — none of the women, their friends or family are allowed to speak to the media. But no matter: Here’s what we know so far about 24-year-old Pepin.

She’s a Towson University alumna: According to Pepin’s Instagram account, she graduated from Towson, where she studied communication.

She’s a pageant queen: This isn’t Pepin’s first time in the spotlight. Six years ago, according to her Pageant Planet profile, she won the Miss Maryland Teen USA pageant on her first attempt. Four years later, she placed second runner-up in the Miss Maryland USA pageant, eventually claiming the title the following year. She also finished in the top ten of last year’s Miss USA pageant.

She’s a world traveler: Pepin was born in Puerto Rico and, according to her Pageant Planet profile, has also lived in Germany and visited France and Czechoslovakia. She’s fluent in Spanish and has also studied French and American Sign Language. According to her bio on ABC’s website, she hasn’t shaken the travel bug: She says visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand is at the top of her bucket list.

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She’s a devoted volunteer: According to her profile on Pageant Planet, when Pepin wasn’t attending class at Towson, she was volunteering with a number of service organizations, including Happy Helpers for the Homeless — a group serving those experiencing homelessness in Baltimore and Glen Burnie — and Operation Welcome Home — an organization supporting veterans when they return from overseas.

She’s ready for love: Pepin’s biography on ABC’s website describes her as a “career woman on the go who is ready to find the love of her life and settle down.” As a romantic partner, she says she is very nurturing and thoughtful — an “all-in” girlfriend who loves to cook and plan small surprises for her significant other. She says she can’t wait to have kids and be a working mom that “shows young women they truly can have it all.”

Season 25 of “The Bachelor” will be premiering at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC.

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