by MIKE CHAIKEN
The new Miss Connecticut and Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen attribute their victories on Saturday at Waterbury’s Palace Theater to their ability to present their true selves to the judges.
Jillian Duffy of Burlington, who was competing as Miss Wolcott, is the new Miss Connecticut. She will compete for Miss America at a date and location yet to be announced.
Lindiana Frangu of Woodbury, who competed as Miss Bristol’s Outstanding Teen, is now Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen. She will compete for Miss America’s Outstanding Teen in July in Orlando, Fla.
Duffy, 22, who has been part of the Miss America organization for 18 years, said she was able to win the judges over this year because “I was 100 percent myself.”
“I was myself,” said Frangu, 15, explaining why she thought the judges were drawn to her. “I thought it was best to just look in the mirror and be completely honest and genuine.”
Duffy also said she felt judges were drawn to her because “I left it all on stage. I just felt confident with myself. It was a lot of work, but it paid off.”
Frangu, who also won overall talent for her tap dance routine, also felt the judges were won over by her story and her family’s story about how they dealt with their mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer. Subsequently, she became an advocate for breast cancer awareness, which is her chosen cause for the organization. Frangu, a student at Nonnewaug High School, said she shared with the judges how she has grown as a person this past year.
For Duffy, the crowning as Miss America comes after many years of watching other women win. But she kept coming back, she said, because she felt she grew as a person each year. And she said she came back because she believed in the Miss America Organization.
“I achieved my goal becoming Miss Connecticut,” said Duffy, who is a student at Southern Connecticut State University. But with Miss America looming, she said she’s not done yet.
When her year is done, Frangu said she wants her legacy to be her ability to spread the word about breast cancer awareness across Connecticut. She also wants to be remembered for bringing this message to the national stage at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition.
“I want Connecticut to be proud of me,” said Duffy of her hopes for her legacy a year from now “I want to expand this organization in the new Miss America 2.0 (format that emphasizes the empowerment of women). I want to market it to the state of Connecticut.”
And Duffy, who is a cancer survivor, also wants to be known for bringing her cause, pediatric cancer research and awareness, to all four corners of the state.
The remaining contestants in the top 5 for Miss Connecticut, in order, were Miss Fairfield County Savannah Giammarco of Middletown, Miss Watertown Alyssa Anderson of Wolcott, Miss Greater Waterbury Laurie Christie of Woodbridge, and Miss Naugatuck Valley Ariana Puglisi of Meriden (who won overall talent).
The remaining contestants in the top 5 for Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen were Miss Southington’s Outstanding Teen Rielley Coles of Southington, Miss Nutmeg’s Outstanding Teen Emerson Forbes of Branford, I Miss Mountain Laurel’s Outstanding Teen Alyssa Petrone of Southington, and Miss Farmingbury’s Outstanding Teen Gia Iwanec of North Haven.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN