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beautiful-inside-and-out-miss-illinois-pageant-endsIf you have been following our interviews with pageant contestant Gemma Berto, you realize by now that a beauty queen has more to offer than looks.

Here are Gemma Berto's final thoughts on the Miss Illinois pageant. I believe she is a true beauty from the inside out and appreciate her sharing this experience. She did not win the title but did win our hearts.

You cannot control how the judges see you.


Pageant weekend came and went so quickly. I still can’t believe it’s over. Months of preparation and work came down to just three days! The weekend spent competing for Miss Illinois USA was definitely one to remember. Although I did not place as well as I had hoped, I know that I gave the pageant my all and I am happy with that. It’s funny because you spend so much time prepping and thinking about what you could do to win and what you are working towards. Yet once you arrive at pageant weekend, all you can do is hope for the best. You hope that your interview went well, that the judges liked you, that your answers were well received, and that you looked amazing on stage. You cannot control how the judges perceive and score you but you can control your attitude, which I find to be a defining feature in a woman.

This year we had 116 girls compete for the title of Miss Illinois USA and only one of them walked away with the crown. It’s easy to get bogged down thinking “she has a prettier dress than me” or “her walk looks more confident than mine”, but comparing yourself to the other contestants won’t get you any closer to the crown. Entering the pageant is about you and how you feel about yourself. I did not enter in attempts to beat out all other girls for the crown, I entered such that I could show people what I have to offer and I did the best I could.

beautiful-inside-and-out-miss-illinois-pageant-ends-photo-2While this year the title of Miss Illinois was not for me I am thankful to have had the opportunity to participate and to have met so many wonderful women along the way. The journey toward the pageant was incredible and I have learned so much about myself in the process.

My motives to enter the pageant were to get myself out there and to inspire other women to be their best no matter what their background is. I study and work in the realm of finance, which is not exactly what you think of when you think “beauty pageant”. However, competing in pageants is much more than just sparkle and beauty, it’s about the winner encompassing the entire package.

I am happy for our new winner, Lexi Atkins, and wish her the best on her journey as Miss Illinois USA 2014. As for myself, I will continue to seek out opportunities to make a positive difference in the world by being a role model for other women and inspiring others to be their best. The end of this pageant marks an end in a chapter of my life but I am excited to begin a new one. Which direction it will take I do not know, but I am along for the ride and excited for future. I do hope all women adopt this mindset whenever something finishes in their lives too as there is so much out there and it is up to us to seize the opportunity.

For more from Andrea, check out her website!

Photo Credit: Ryan Shi

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