Glamour and grit: student empowers on pageant stage

By Isabella Foley '23, MA '24 May 07, 2024

Gia Iwanec smiles wearing a lime green shirt.

Gia Iwanec ’25 has been competing in pageants since the age of 5 and is now preparing for the upcoming Miss Collegiate America competition, embodying Bobcat pride.

As soon as she joined the pageant scene during her childhood, Iwanec gained a new sense of self-confidence and fell in love with the opportunity to be on stage.

“If only 5-year-old Gia, could see where she is now and all of the life skills she has gained from pageantry, she would be so proud of the young woman she has become,” said Iwanec. “Pageantry is important to me because it made me the woman, and more importantly, the leader, I am today.”

The marketing student developed her personal platform, “Get Into Action”, focused on health and wellness. Through this campaign, she has partnered with national organizations like NFL Play 60, Partnership For A Healthier America, the Special Olympics, United Way and more, serving as a brand ambassador, partner and social media influencer.

She recently proposed a business plan and held two town-wide “Get Into Action” days in North Haven on April 13 and May 9. Iwanec additionally launched her pilot program, “Storytime with Gia” when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020 and has traveled to over 650 classrooms across Connecticut sharing the gift of reading. Her philanthropic efforts don’t end there. She has personally raised over $15,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Iwanec has always had a heart to serve and her time spent on stage at pageants has given her a voice to empower others and make a difference.

Currently carrying the title of Miss Connecticut Collegiate America, this Bobcat is preparing to compete in the Miss Collegiate America competition this July in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In preparation for this event, Iwanec has debuted a new social media initiative, “Get Reel with Gia”, where she shares her personal and professional life with followers on her Instagram account. She also created another impactful campaign, “To Brave and Beyond”, where she visits classrooms and after-school programs to promote choosing kindness. This program entails storytime, games, taking a pledge and building B.R.A.V.E. bags — the official motto of Miss Collegiate America which stands for Building Respect and Values for Everyone. She has already reached thousands of students.

The dedicated third-year does not take this responsibility lightly and has dreams to gain this other national title in Arkansas in a few months.

“It would be absolutely incredible for both myself and Quinnipiac,” said Iwanec. “I don't do these things for myself, I do this for others and that's the reason I am competing. To be a role model, leader and voice for not only our university but for America.”

As far as her involvement on campus, Iwanec is a sister of the Theta Theta chapter of Alpha Delta Pi, performs with the Dance Team and serves the community through the Student Government Association (SGA) as the newly elected Vice President for Public Relations.

In this new position, she intends to focus on recruitment and use the organization’s social media platforms to share their mission and increase participation within the association.

Connecting with her fellow Bobcats and leaving a legacy behind is of utmost importance to her.

In her academic life, Iwanec strives to make a positive effect through public speaking, planning and promotion. She chose to study marketing because it gives her the opportunity to work directly with customers and make people happy.

“My mission in life since I was a little girl was to make someone smile,” said Iwanec. “Marketing allows me to do that in both a professional and personal manner. What's better than that?”

After recently declaring a minor in integrated advertising and communications, she hopes to follow a career path that will lead her in front of the camera. 

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