Meet Miss Columbus 2014.
Gianna Bianco, a 17-year-old Pelham Parkway resident and senior at Maria Regina High School, has been named Miss Columbus for the 38th annual Bronx Columbus Day Parade.
Bianco grew up attending the parade each year, and said she always looked up to Miss Columbus as a model Italian-American girl. She was excited to learn she was eligible this year, and was over the moon when she was chosen, she said.
“It feels really surreal,” she said. “Next month I’ll be in the car, being the girl I always looked at in awe.”
Bianco was chosen for the position by a panel of educators, and the title comes with a scholarship from Generoso Pope Foundation, the amount of which has not yet been determined. She said she is proud to be recognized for both her academic achievements and her representation of Italian heritage.
“It’s such an honor to be deemed Miss Columbus,” said Bianco. “I hope to represent everyone in the community and make them proud”
She said she has always loved the parade’s atmosphere, with the floats, bands and cultural expression.
“I like everybody sharing the culture and the pride of Italian-Americans,” said Bianco.
Her heritage is important to her, and she enjoys when Italians come together and celebrate.
“It’s like we are one big family,” said Bianco.
Bianco is inspired by her 96-year-old grandmother, who came from Italy at age six with no knowledge of English, before rising to become the first women in her family to earn a masters degree.
“She’s taught me a lot,” said Bianco.
Bianco said she values education, and next year is hoping to attend either Iona College, Fairfield College, or Manhattan College. She aspires to work either in special education or social work.
“I feel like my calling in life is to help people however I can,” she said.
Special education appeals to her because she believes everyone deserves a fair chance at education and at life, no matter their disability, said Bianco. Volunteering is also important to her, and she participates in Hope’s Door’s STAR Peer Leadership Program, which teaches participants about recognizing and supporting victims of teen dating abuse.
“I feel it’s something that demands a lot of attention,” she said.
Bianco is a member of the National Honor Society and National Science Honor Society, and participating and showing school spirit at Maria Regina is important to her.
Her parents said she has always been a hard worker, who gets what she strives for.
“We’re very proud of her,” they said.
Bianco will be crowned at the annual Bronx Columbus Day Parade’s dinner dance on Sunday, September 28 at Maestro’s Caterers. For tickets to the dinner dance, call Chris Alessandro at 914-906-5464.
The parade will take place on Sunday, October 12, starting at noon at the corner of Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road, and will follow Morris Park Avenue up to Williamsbridge Road.