WHEATON – A Wheaton teen is hoping to translate local pageant success into an international crown this weekend at the International Miss Teen Galaxy pageant.
Recent Wheaton-Warrenville South High School graduate Rachel Janovsky will take her Illinois title – which she won back in March – to Orlando on Friday to compete against dozens of young women from across the world.
This will be her eighth pageant, Janovsky said, and she hopes it will be her second win.
"At that crowning moment I was very, very excited," she said of the victory that made her eligible for the upcoming pageant. "I was in total shock, even though I knew I had a change – I could feel that a new journey was opening and that all the hard work and preparation for the pageant was definitely worth it."
Janovsky began participating in pageants in eighth grade. She received a brochure in the mail for the National American Miss pageant, but thought it was a joke. She looked into it, and has been hooked ever since.
Aside from the feeling of glamour it affords, pageantry has taught her about herself, she said – particularly thanks to the interview portion.
"In middle school, I was afraid of public speaking – if I had to do a presentation I dreaded doing it," she said. "But pageants taught me to love public speaking, now I do it all the time."
She said she practices 20 minutes a day walking, answering questions and more to prepare, and has done a lot of work with her community service program of choice, the American Diabetes Association.
The association's cause is near and dear to her heart – the soon-to-be freshman at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was eight.
"At first, I was very nervous and very scared, but I figured out ways to manage my diabetes," she said. "It's made me stronger ... it's a struggle, but I've gotten through it and it's not going to stop me from doing what I want to do."
Janovsky said she often wears her insulin pump during the non-swimwear parts of competitions, and hopes wear it while competing in all categories in the future. She said she enjoys being a resource for others, from those who see her during pageants to classmates.
Her coach, Christine Boll, who is the executive state director of the Illinois Galaxy Pageant, suggested she participate in the competition.
Boll said she was not a voting member of the panel that selected the state's Miss Teen Galaxy winner, and that the pageant was a good fit for Janovsky's personality and style. Winners are expected to be a "spokesmodel" for the competition and its values of diversity, empowerment and beauty.
"At that age, not everyone is completely comfortable in their skin as a teenager," she said. "If she can keep up that confidence the whole day long ... it's like a marathon, whoever is at a ten and doing it all day can win."
Miss Galaxy categories
• Fun fashion
• Evening gown
• Quill and Scroll Award
• Wheaton Warrenville South journalism award
• Secretary of National Honor Society