by JoAnn Serpico
Each year, the queen pageant attracts the most well-rounded, educated and lovely young ladies, and this year of course was no exception. How the judges were able to narrow it down to three finalists is truly amazing, since all were spectacular in appearance, accomplishments and goals.
The audience, by secret ballot, determined the queen. What an exciting finale! Ryan Chiaverini was a most gracious emcee. He was accommodating with all who wanted autographs and photos with him. He is a credit to our heritage. In this column I not only inform you of the queen, I also want to enlighten you about the court. We are so blessed to have these intelligent lovely ladies of Italian heritage participating.
I now introduce you to:
Olivia Smaniotto, the Columbus Day queen, who is 18 years old, is a recent honor roll graduate of Lyons Township High School and was vice president of her class. She will be entering DePaul University, where she will be furthering her Italian studies for a chance to explore Italy in a study abroad program. She is an advanced placement student and her intended major is international studies, concentrating on Europe. Olivia has taken dance lessons and has won the Outstanding Senior Award. She is a student of the arts, has won a National Scholastic Gold Key award for printmaking and has displayed her art work in the LaGrange Art League Gallery. Olivia’s family comes from the region of Trentino/Alto Adige.
And now the court!
Elisa DeFeo is 19 years old and was born in Castel di Sangro in the Abruzzo region of Italy, where she lived until she was 3 years old before coming to America. She speaks Italian fluently and visits Castel di Sangro yearly. She attends Dominican University with an aim to graduate in 2015. She is the event assistant for the Schedule and Event Department at the university. Her major is neo-natal nursing and she is currently a pharmacy technician. Elisa enjoys working with younger children and has assisted at Chicagoland functions for the Italian community. She enjoys being active and volunteering at her old grade school, and caring for animals. Elisa is compassionate and PROUD to be Italian.
Norina Infusino is 23 years old and is currently attending College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, where she is a business major. She is employed as a billing assistant/receptionist at a psychologist’s office. Norina loves attending Hot Rod car shows, dancing, fashion and trying out new foods. She volunteers at her local animal shelter and has adopted two chinchillas. When she thinks about being Italian, she thinks about love and family and all that has been passed down through the generations. She is passionate about her Italian heritage because of all the contributions Italians have made that have affected our lives. Her family comes from the Calabria and Abruzzo regions of Italy.
Bianca Vitucci Lev is 19 years old and is a full-time student at Indiana University in Bloomington. Her major is broadcast journalism and her minor is communication and culture. Bianca enjoys helping others, especially those with developmental disabilities. She enjoys theater and public speaking and is a member of both the National Honor Society and the National Thespian Society. She is a staff writer at HerCampusU, a school newspaper. She believes being Italian is always being “welcomed” and having an immediate bond with other Italians. Her great, great grandparents are from Sicily, Puglia and Abruzzo.
Victoria Martello is 21 years old and attends Saint Xavier University, where she is on the Dean’s list and is a Presidential Scholar. She will be enrolling in Italian culture and language classes in preparation for studying in Rome. She is majoring in nursing with a minor in psychology and women’s studies. Victoria is the founder and president of the Italian American Society at SXU. She is a member of the Mercy Students for Peace and captain of the Powder Puff football intramural team. She also is co-captain of the Cougar cheerleading squad. Her family hails from Naples, and each girl in the family, on her 18th birthday, receives a special family sauce recipe that came from their great-grandmother.
Lynzi Misuraca is 19 years old and attends Benedictine University on a full academic and soccer scholarship. She is majoring in sports communication and is a broadcast intern for a Chicago radio station. Lynzi has been honored with five state titles from Scholastic Pageants in Illinois, which instill and inspire young girls to believe in their dreams. She enjoys traveling, shopping, modeling, dancing and soccer. Lynzi runs two not-for-profit organizations called “Lynzi’s Locker” and “Pageant Girls for a Cure,” which benefits the American Heart Association. She comes from a close Sicilian family that is warm, loving and welcoming. Family means love, tradition, honor and support. She treasures and shares her family traditions and recipes brought to her from Sicily.