by MIKE CHAIKEN
Before Jillian Duffy earned the crown of Miss Connecticut this past June, she wore the crown as Miss Wolcott.
As Miss Wolcott, she served as the Miss to Gia Iwanec’s Miss Farmingbury’s Outstanding Teen.
During preliminary competitions at the Mohegan Sun Earth Expo Center in Uncasville, Conn., Gia was in the audience rooting for “her” Miss Wolcott. As a long-time pageant participant herself, Gia also found the fire of her Miss America dreams being stoked as she watched the events unfold on Dec. 15. and 16.
“Seeing Jill on the Miss America stage truly made my heart so happy and actually gave me chills,” said Gia.
“I have been a part of Jillian’s journey for the last two years as her ‘Teen’ and it truly has changed me,” said Gia.
“Jill is the reason why I want to become Miss Connecticut one day,” said Gia. “I was in the audience as an 8-year-old princess when she was awarded first runner-up to Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen.”
“I was so inspired by her story and also by the fact that she beat and battled cancer and placed that high in Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen and because of her achievements that year I knew that if you put your mind in the right place, anything is possible with hard work and dedication,” said Gia.
“I am so proud of Jill as I have witnessed all of the hard work she has put in the past year to make this dream of hers a reality,” said Gia. “I am so proud to have her as my role model and can only hope that I can be in her shoes one day.”
With the Miss America competition in Connecticut this year, Gia also had the opportunity to see “the big game” play out before her live rather than just watch it on television.
“Being in the same room as a future Miss America was kind of crazy to me,” said Gia. “I can now say that I saw our Miss America compete for this prestigious job promotion.”
“I am excited for my future ahead of me and hopefully one day I can be gracing the Miss America stage one day,” said Gia.
“This coming competition season will be my fourth and final try competing for the job of Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen as I age out this year,” said Gia. “Seeing all of the teen state titleholders there and together really hit me and something clicked in my mind. I want to be one of those girls and get the experience and title they have as a young women in the Miss America Organization.”
For the second of the preliminaries, Gia worked her fashion ambitions as well.
“I chose to be different with my outfit choices for Miss America,” said Gia. “I said to my mom while I was looking through the many racks in my ‘pageant dressing room’ that I want to be different and try a look that I have never tried yet before.”
“I chose one of my all-time favorite patterns, which is cheetah, (and paired it) with a Christmas bell red earring and candy apple red high heels.”
“I felt very classy and sassy with a slick right part pony tail and felt confident in my outfit choice,” said Gia.
The Miss America finals will be telecast live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. on NBC.