While many people think of the American people as descendents of northern European stock, millions of modern Americans are descended from Italian immigrants. In fact, Italian Americans are the fourth largest ethnic group in America. Overall, an estimated 6 million Italians immigrated to the U.S. between 1820 and 2017. 

Over the last decade two women with Italian roots have won the Miss USA Pageant. Will she be the next ? The beautiful Gabriella Decologero will compete in Miss Massachusetts USA later this year and she's proud to be able to call herself an American-Italian - "I was born in Massachusetts but spent most of my childhood growing up Italy with my family where my mom was born. I am 100% Italian and can speak fluently in Sicilian. My double cultural identity has made me extremely blessed and grateful of my cultural background as for who I am today" - she explained.

As she competes for the title of Miss Massachusetts USA she advocates women’s equality and empowering young women to believe they are not inferior or less important than any other man - "I believe that true beauty is held within and by competing in the Miss Massachusetts USA pageant this November I will inspire many young women in our society to gain confidence and truly love them selves for who they are."

Gabriella is currently 19 years old and a sophomore student at Endicott College majoring in business marketing. I had the opportunity to interview her on her preparation for the Miss Massachusetts USA Contest. Lets know a little more about this beautiful and inspiring woman through this interview!

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In a pageant confidence is the key. Anyone who has ever pursued their dreams knows that they are never as simple as you set out expecting them to be. Don’t let that deter you. Confident winners do not let setbacks deter them from their goals or allow others’ opinions to deter them from their full potential.

Perseverance in pageantry is a valuable lesson that applies in every other area of life. The best things in life are challenging. Know that whatever setbacks you may have, they don’t define you. 

The beautiful Michelle Laino will compete for the crown of Miss New York Teen USA 2018. This will be her 5th time. She believes that you don't need a crown to be a queen - "Every year I competed I got to know myself more and more. That was the most important thing I have done to prepare, is to know myself inside and out. I think the most important part of preparation in pageants is getting to know who you are and why you are competing." she explained.

Michelle, 18, graduated high school and she is currently enrolled in a personal training certification program. After she obtains her certification she plans to continue her education in nutrition. She works as a sales associate at Club Pilates - "I just really love fitness, exercise, and the human body. As for extracurricular work, I have a health blog and I also volunteer at Gilda's Club, which is an organization to help families, friends, and patients affected by cancer." she said

Michelle's dedication towards her goals, and her success which has been a result of her ambitions and efforts, will surely take her long on the road of victory! Discover more about her story below

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Ask a titleholder what she loves most about wearing the crown and she will tell you this : it's all about giving back and growing. When you wear the crown, you experience tremendous growth, both personally and professionally. A titleholder cultivates a wealth of skills that translate into successful, fulfilling careers.  It will prepare you for a bright future. You’ll master the art of speaking in front of crowds. You’ll flex your time management muscles and grow your organizational skills. You’ll learn how to set goals and crush them. And you’ll do it all being confidently beautiful!

Brooklyn Patterson won the crown of Miss Permian Basin Teen 2017, it was a complete shock since she had never been in a pageant before. She was encouraged by a close friend to enter the pageant and she went into it with the mindset of having fun and experiencing something new and outside of her comfort zone - "I have been dancing since I was two years old and dancing competitively since I was seven so being on stage was not new to me but being judged was definitely out of my comfort zone! Getting to dress up in beautiful clothes and shoes was so much fun!" - she explained.

Having the title of Miss Permian Basin Teen has opened up countless opportunities for her and has allowed her to be a part of things that she probably would not have had the chance to do otherwise - "I have loved every minute of it and I feel truly blessed that I have had the privilege of representing my community!"

Brooklyn will have the opportunity to compete in the 2018 Miss Texas Teen USA Pageant this month. Texas is one of the most successful states across all twenty-seven years of competition at Miss Teen USA. They have had seventeen semi-finalists, three more than any other state. They have won the crown three times, in 1996 when Christie Lee Woods took the title (Woods later went on to star in The Amazing Race 5) and 15 years later in 2011 when Danielle Doty won. Karlie Hay became the third Texan entrant to win the crown in 2016. 

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"Sport has the power to help develop the potential of individuals, communities and nations. It encourages personal growth, is a major force in eliminating gender barriers and can build bridges across lines that might otherwise divide.” Ban ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General

The beautiful Gracie Hunt was born into a sports-loving family. From age four to seventeen, soccer was a huge part of her world, and it has impacted her life in innumerable ways - "Sports afforded me the opportunity to learn to work as a team towards a common goal, and to never let a setback or obstacle hinder my achievement" - she explained.

Over her career she played high school and D1 club soccer and hoped to continue into college, but god has opened another door "When I received my 4th concussion, my neurologist suggested that I should no longer play the game I loved which was devestating. I hoped and prayed for direction and another dream to capture my heart and imagination, and the door was opened to pageantry."

She won the crown of Miss Teen Texas Intl 2016 and will compete in Miss Texas Teen USA this november. She competed last year for the first time and was named fourth runner-up - "This is my last year of eligibility, so I’m giving it my best shot! I always looked up to anyone wearing a crown, as I believe most people do, and when I realized the platform and impact I could make through holding a title, I was hooked. I am passionate about volunteerism and making a difference, and leaving the world better than I found it."

I had the opportunity to interview the beauty queen a few days before the Miss Texas Teen USA Pageant. Her dedication and hard work towards her goals will surely take her long on the road of victory!

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Are beauty pageants feminist or sexist? This has long been a topic of debate. Seeing as Miss Universe is THE highest point of the beauty pageant industry, one can imagine the excitement sweeping when the season arrives. 

Being Miss Universe is also a full-time job. You have to travel the world for charity work (it’s not all glitz and glamour despite how it sounds), educate yourself about other countries’ culture and customs, and raise awareness for many issues. Basically a woman is not less feminist simply because she voluntarily delights in pageants, and to shame her for it is actually perpetuating misogyny. If you police a woman’s choice to express her bodily autonomy on a stage because YOU don’t think that fits your definition of feminism, then that’s not feminist.

The gorgeous Sophia Koch, who'll be representing Germany in Miss Universe 2017, thinks that Miss Universe is here to empower women - "It shows that behind a beautiful face is also a strong character and personality that can achieve all the goals a women dreams of. I think that people who see pageants as they are degrading women just see the requirements that we have to dress up nicely in evening gowns and that we also do our hair and makeup but besides that we show by answering questions and giving interviews that our words and the messages we are spreading to the world have a big value and important content" - she explained.

Sophia was born in Halle. She is a Social Studies and German Literature student at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. She loves ballet dancing and speaks 4 languages; German, English, French and Spanish.

I had the opportunity to interview the beautiful Sophia a few days before her departure for the Miss Universe Pageant. Check it below!

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Life coaching is a relatively new service available to people who feel like they need help to make changes in their lives. Motivation enhancement is a key component of many coaches’ repertoire, as they help people to set goals, and then both hold them accountable and cheer them on as the clients make progress towards these goals.

In 2007, when she was 15 years old; Simonne Pastore lost her father to suicide, after suffering from mental illness and PTSD. This is why she decided to become a certified Health and Personal Development Coach. She would like to be the next Miss Maine USA to set a goal for herself to push herself, the way she helps her clients set goals for themselves - "I have a passion for constant growth and development, which I believe pagentry exemplifies" - she said.

Simonne studied at the Institue for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, and iPEC life coaching school in Boston, MA. She helps clients achieve their goals of having a healthy body and mind, naturally. In her spare time she organizes a non-profit community outreach program designed to create mental health awareness in her community. She also hosts a podcast and local radio show called "Out of the Box" centered around health and wellness, personal development, travel and entrepreneurship. 

I had the opportunity to interview the beautiful Simonne on her preparation for the upcoming Miss Maine USA Pageant.

Did you know ? Maine is one of the less successful Miss USA states, with only eight placements as of 2012. In 2006, Katee Stearns made the semi-finals, becoming only the fifth woman from Maine and the first since 1977 to make the cut. In 2010, Katie Whittier became the first delegate from Maine to reach the top five, finishing 4th runner up. In 2011, Ashley Marble became Maine's first consecutive placement.

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Gender diversity has increased significantly in the 21st-century workforce as more women have entered the workplace. In some cases, statistics support the notion of evolving gender equality. Other stats show that some work is still necessary to give equal opportunities to men and women across all levels and job types.

Did you know ? In the United States, only 7% of women worked in male-dominated occupations in 2017!

The beautiful Amanda Larsson-Dally, who'll be competing in the Miss California USA Pageant later this year,  is all about breaking stereotypes to set the record straight on so-called pageant girls - "I am not the typical pageant girl that is perusing an acting or modeling career. I feel that I am a good example to young women by showing them you can persue a career and education while wearing a crown and be and be successful in a male dominated industry. I want to show women that they are worth more than what’s on the outside!" she explained.

Amanda is employed by the number one automotive company in the world: Toyota Motors Sales Corporate North America - "I have the most amazing career. I am a vehicle product training specialist in the Los Angeles Region in District 8 (Gold Coast). My day of work consists of travels to dealerships in the central coast area of California where I educate sales consultants about Toyota products. This year has been especially exciting because I got to be a part of the C-HR launch and be apart of the biggest launch in Toyota history with the ALL-New 2018 Camry!"

Prior to her careet with Toyota she was a student at California State University Long Beach where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a certificate in mediation.

I had the opportunity to interview her on her preparation for the Miss California USA Contest. Lets know a little more about this beautiful and inspiring woman through this interview!

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