Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00
Jessica Ricco knows a thing or two about perseverance.
After three tries, Ricco earned her crown as Miss Long Island 2013, and following recent lung surgery, the W.T. Clarke grad is back at it again, representing Westbury and Long Island in the Miss New York USA Pageant last month.
The Westbury Times caught up with the lovely and eloquent Ricco, an elementary teacher, who shared her story of success and strength.
The Westbury Times: What does it take to be Miss Long Island?
Jessica Ricco: Being Miss Long Island is what you make of it. I had waited so long to achieve my goal and become Miss Long Island that I decided I would never say “no” to anything I was asked to do during my year. There are many different appearances that I am asked to be at, during the week and on weekends. There are charity events, photo shoots, and runway shows.
In order to be Miss Long Island you need to have heart, be compassionate, manage your time well and truly want to make a difference and represent Long Island to the best of your ability.
WT: What are some of the misconceptions about pageants?
JR: Pageants are so much more than people see from the outside looking in. The world of pageantry is full of intelligent, driven women that truly hope to make a difference in this world. Besides the obvious beauty factor, there is so much more depth to pageantry. A Queen must be able to articulate her feelings and opinions in a way that makes people want to listen and be comfortable in her own skin so she is able to show confidence in front of many different groups of people.
Pageantry is also about building a sisterhood. The girls I have met through pageantry are friends I will have for the rest of my life and we all work together to help one another succeed at our goals. With a network of thousands of intelligent, driven women, anything can get done.
WT: What is the most rewarding part about doing what you do?
JR: Hands down the most rewarding part of being Miss Long Island is the charity work I do. When you attend an event that is all about making someone’s life better or raising money for an organization that is helping people in your community, you can’t help but feel good. The events really teach me a lot about Long Island and the people that live here. There are some amazing people on this island that I never would have had the opportunity to meet if it weren’t for winning the Miss Long Island Pageant.
WT: Any advice for effectively juggling work, hobbies and personal wellness?
JR: This is a great question for me right now. I underwent lung surgery in December and it really taught me a lot about myself and others. I learned that your health is the most important thing in this world. All the good that I want to do can not be achieved if I am not healthy, it’s like they say when you are flying, put your oxygen mask on first then help others.
I had been sick since November, but I was so focused on work and being Miss Long Island that I didn’t want to accept it. After the surgery, I realized that I am stronger than I though I was and now I am an even better Miss Long Island than before. I’m more thankful than ever before.
As far as juggling work and hobbies, I believe that you need to follow your heart and do something that makes you happy. Hobbies are a great way to stay happy and participate in something you truly enjoy – you need a healthy balance of work and play.
WT: What are some of your goals for the future?
Right now I am focusing on developing an organization that will help children succeed in their lives and give them a brighter future. I also hope to get a full time teaching position in the near future here on Long Island. As far as pageants, I am not sure if I will continue to compete after my reign as Miss Long Island is over, but I will never leave the pageant industry. I’ve been playing with the idea of becoming a pageant coach and will continue to promote the Miss Long Island pageant because it is truly a sisterhood that will change your life.