Parkwood girl competes in Miss Pennsylvania pageant

8-year-old Giavanna Cardella wants to use the platform to inspire other girls to be leaders.

Shining star: Giavanna Cardella, 8, competed as a state finalist in the Miss Pennsylvania competition. She competed against 126 other girls to place in the top four, who would move on in the National American Miss competition.

When 8-year-old Giavanna Cardella stepped on the stage for her first pageant, she did so with ease. It felt like a natural fit for her.

“I like being able to show people who I really am,” she said.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, Giavanna competed as a state finalist in the Miss Pennsylvania competition in Harrisburg. She competed against 126 other girls to place in the top four, who would move on in the National American Miss competition.

It was the first time she participated in something like this. Previously, she received a letter in the mail inviting her to an open call round. There, she received a 5/5 score from the judges based on five rounds of interviews, and moved on to the Miss Pennsylvania round.

This pageant consisted of four rounds: formal wear, personal introduction, interview and community service. Giavanna said her favorite round was the personal introduction, where she spoke to a crowd of more than 350 people.

She gave a quick rundown of her personal introduction.

“Hi, my name is Giavanna, but my friends call me Gia,” she said. “I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up so I can help animals. My favorite animals are puppies.”

She also encouraged people to come visit her in Philadelphia so they could have the “best pretzels ever.” Giavanna’s favorite pretzels are from the Pretzel Factory, and she enjoys them with the buttercream dip.

Giavanna did not qualify as one of the top four finalists, but she was invited to participate again next year. She is excited to compete again next year, and is already preparing.

To get more involved in the community, she hopes to create her own chapstick to give to kids at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“We have to get permission first, but she wants to put chapstick in the hands of every patient,” said Giavanna’s mother, Tracey.

With the slogan “Growing confidence,” National America Miss gives girls a stage to be themselves and help others. It’s not a typical beauty pageant; Tracey said that girls are not allowed to wear makeup so they can show off their natural beauty.

How she got the invite in the first place remains a mystery. She received a letter for the open call, but does not know who recommended her. She asked people at the sign-in desk as soon as they arrived, because she is highly curious of the answer.

Between now and next year, Giavanna will enter third grade. She said she plans to wear her Miss Pennsylvania T-shirt to school, which is pink and shows a tiara.

She also hopes to continue inspiring other girls.

“I want to show other girls you can be leaders,” she said. ••