Greensburg student is new Miss Teen of Pa.
Julianna Franzino, a junior at Greensburg Salem High School, is the new Miss Teen of Pennsylvania.
Franzino, 16, said that entering a pageant was not something she had even considered.
“They contacted me in late January that I was invited to participate,” said Franzino, the daughter of Diane and Robert Franzino of Greensburg. “My family persuaded me to accept, so I did. I have never done a pageant before.”
The pageant, which is under the Miss Teen of America Scholarship and Recognition program, focuses on academic achievement. Participants are selected for the primary round based solely on academics, school activities and community service.
“It is not a beauty pageant,” Franzino said. “It's a scholarship event.”
Once the teen notified the program that she was interested, she started the process of fulfilling the requirements to be selected as a competitor.
“I had to describe in depth my activities and academics and I had to write a speech,” Franzino said.
A total of 2,000 girls began the process; only 68 were accepted to compete in the state pageant held July 25-27 at Shippensburg University.
“I started hysterically crying when I got the letter that said I was accepted,” Franzino said.
At the pageant, Franzino and other contestants competed in six categories: scholarship record, achievements and service to school and community, personal development of talent and skills, personality projection in formal wear, a general awareness written test and an interview.
“They chose the top six, then final three,” Franzino said. “When they got down to the top three, I was so excited, I wasn't even listening. I just kept thinking, 'I'm in the finals.'”
Franzino was accompanied by her parents, sister Brianna Franzino, 12, brother Nicholas Franzino, 12, boyfriend Justin Altman and other relatives who traveled to join her cheering section.
“When they announced that I won, there was an entire row that stood up and cheered,” Franzino said. “That was my boyfriend and my family. It was awesome.”
The teen won a $1,000 scholarship, the title, a sash, a plaque and a medallion.
Franzino will hold the title of Miss Teen of Pennsylvania for the next two years and will be eligible to compete for Miss Teen of America in the fall in Texas.
“I'll be doing a series of interviews,” all via Skype, Franzino said. “It will all be done virtually.”
There will be six teens chosen from across the country to compete for the title of Miss Teen of America. The pageant winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and serve as a representative for the program, which would require extensive traveling.
“I think it would be great to be able to be a role model for girls and teenagers,” Franzino said. “This was a pageant about academics and scholarships. You don't have to be beautiful to be a winner. You have to just believe in yourself.”
Franzino has maintained a 4.0 grade point average since fourth grade.
She is an active member of the Greensburg Salem Marching Band and serves as vice president for both the Red Cross and student council organizations at her school.
“We are proud, beyond proud,” Diane Franzino said. “We think that she is just awesome and we are thrilled that the judges thought that she was awesome too.”
Pageant official Sunny Hill did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.