Whitestone girl wins pageant

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Whitestone’s coronation has arrived in the form of 20-year-old Bianca Pappas, the newly crowned Miss New York United States 2011.

The Whitestone-raised beauty won the competition earlier this month, and in July she will head to the national competition in Las Vegas.

Pappas, a communications major at St. John’s University, hopes the attention she is drawing as the pride of Whitestone will allow her to do more for her community.

“I’ve done a lot of community service at nursing homes all over Queens, but my pageant platform is based on helping underprivileged children,” she said. “I’ve also done community service by helping at an elementary school and doing an after-school program.”

First Pappas won the first-annual Miss Whitestone contest April 21, then she picked up the New York tiara, and if she wins in Nevada she will become Miss United States 2011. Miss United States is the oldest of the three main national beauty pageants and is often viewed as more conservative than the other two — Miss America and Miss Universe — according to Margaret Skourlis, director of the 2011 Miss New York United States and Miss New Jersey United States competitions and Pappas’ coach.

Though she had experience in modeling and acting, it was not Pappas’ idea to enter the contest. Her candidacy originated when her 81-year-old grandmother saw an ad in the newspaper advertising the Miss Whitestone pageant, and proudly put together an application for her striking descendant.

Now that Pappas is preparing to go to the nationals, her mother Sandy is realizing the opportunities it could open for her daughter.

“At this age, it gives her the opportunity to interact with people all over the United States,” she said while watching her daughter pose in a tight pink dress, sash and tiara at Francis Lewis Park last Thursday evening. “It gives her the opportunity to not only pursue her passions but also her personal, professional goals. It’s not only about winning, it’s about experiences.”

Skourlis, a former beauty pageant winner herself and owner of the Crowning Dream, the company through which she runs the New York and New Jersey pageants and manages Pappas, agreed with her mother’s characterization.

“A lot of the girls want to go to grad school one day, so we book them to do a lot of community service and also meet the right people to help them get further in their careers,” she said.

Pappas, who is of Greek-Italian descent and was born in Manhattan, has lived in Whitestone since she was 3 years old and graduated from St. Francis Prep High School. She said she realizes the advantages her new title brings, but also accepts the responsibility that comes with her newfound success.

“I was very excited to win. This title gives me the opportunity to be a spokesperson and a role model for the younger generation,” the tall brunette said. “I want girls to be confident, to have an education and to dream big. You can do anything you want to do.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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