Although West Chicago resident Norina Infusino had never before participated in a pageant, she decided to take a leap of faith in July 2012 and compete for a spot on the Queen’s Court of the Columbus Day Parade in Chicago.
Infusino wanted to try something new that would push her out of her comfort zone. She never thought she’d be named a semi-finalist, but she was.
“I was just happy to be participating in the pageant,” said Infusino, 24. “I didn’t even expect to place.”
After participating in last year’s parade and attending other events as part of the Queen’s Court, Infusino competed in the pageant again this year and won first runner-up.
“I was just very surprised and excited, and I felt wonderful being a part of it,” she said.
This year’s Columbus Day Parade will take place Oct. 14 in Chicago.
The Queen’s Court competition is open to any young woman between the ages of 18 and 25 who is at least 50 percent Italian and unmarried. It is sponsored by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, a nonprofit based in the suburb of Stone Park.
Infusino, who is 75 percent Italian, said although she was raised with an appreciation for her heritage, the Queen’s Court helped her to value her culture even more.
Infusino’s family is proud of what she has achieved in being named to the Court for two consecutive years, especially since she wasn’t expecting to win.
“Everything she does, she puts everything she has into it,” said her mother, Janice Infusino.
Infusino graduated from Community High School in West Chicago in 2007 and received her associate’s degree in business from the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
Now, she is a project manager for First Priority DKI, a home disaster restoration company in South Elgin.
As a project manager, Infusino is charged with making sure everything goes according to plan, from scheduling a project at someone’s home to making sure the client is happy with the work to keeping everyone on track with a set timeline.
Although her job is challenging, she said she’s enjoyed the learning experience.
“I love it,” Infusino said. “I love this job.”
Infusino plans to participate in the Columbus Day Parade pageant again next year. Since she’ll be 25 years old, it will be her last time competing, but Infusino has already taken away many gifts from her years with the Queen’s Court.
“I left with new friends that I’m still friends with today, I’m more appreciative and understanding of my culture, and I’m more confident since joining the pageant,” she said.