Gabriella Pedraza boosts confidence with pageant
CHARLOTTE – Gabriella Pedraza planned on visiting Puerto Rico in December, but the island was still recovering from damages sustained from Hurricane Maria in September.
“My family is OK, but some areas in Puerto Rico are totally devastated,” she said, noting that some of her friends lost their homes. “The power goes in and out. Things like clean water are hard to find.”
Her family moved from Puerto Rico to Charlotte last year.
Gabriella, 16, said her mother had long intended to move to the United States to provide her better educational opportunities. Her mom fell in love with Charlotte when visiting three years ago.
Her family intentionally moved to a neighborhood so Gabriella could attend Ardrey Kell High School. When she arrived, she was slightly intimidated by the size, considering the graduating class at her last school was 50 students.
She came here speaking English, but had trouble expressing herself. She didn’t have the strongest grasp on words and her accent was thicker than people were used to.
She’s enrolled at the Schroeder Studio, a performing arts studio run by Lindsey Schroeder. While Gabriella has been performing for 10 years, Schroeder has taught her more about enhancing her presence on stage.
“She’s helped develop my personality,” Gabriella said of Schroeder. “She’s made me more confident about my voice and myself.”
Gabriella will participate in the 2018 Miss Teen Competition on Feb. 25.
The pageant features four divisions of young women, ages 7 to 20, judged on modeling casual and formal wear, as well as how they fare in an interview. Judges consider personality as the top trait in each portion.
Leading up to the pageant, she’s going to work on showcasing her personality. She remembers during her initial interview about being asked to rate her self esteem from 1 to 10. She answered 8, since she’s fairly new to the Charlotte area and continues adjusting to her new environment.
If Gabriella wins the Miss Teen title, she’ll advance to a national competition in Orlando, Fla.
“You should be open for new experiences,” Gabriella said. “If I have an opportunity to do another pageant, then I will do it.”
Want to help?
Businesses, organizations and individuals can sponsor Gabriella Pedraza in the competition by contacting the Miss Teen pageant coordinator at 877-910-4190.