BY BILL WELLOCK
Madonna Mantione lives her life according to her own motto — “Believe in yourself, set goals and take action to make your dreams come true.”
“That is something I have implemented in my own life,” she said. “That is the mantra I live by, and I continually share this with as many people as I encounter, and I hope to inspire them to do the same.”
The motto has inspired the 21-year-old from Laflin to compete in the Miss Greater Hazleton Scholarship Program, where she earned a crown in November 2018.
Now, she will join 27 other women in the 2019 Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Competition. The participants will spend the week before the event touring the communities around York and doing volunteer work before the competition, which culminates on June 15.
The other participants include Caroline Jones, of Mountain Top, who earned the title of Miss Keystone in another local pageant.
“This is my sixth time competing,” Jones said. “One of the many things the (Miss America) organization has helped me develop is resilience and grit — having passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”
In advance of the competition, Jones has been practicing the Beethoven composition she’ll play on piano and has been sharing her social impact initiative with others.
Her “Read to Succeed Project” is a movement to read to children, to educate parents on why reading is so important, and to ignite a desire for literacy and a love of reading in all children, she said.
“Reading changes lives, builds confidence and improves the odds that kids will succeed in school and in life. As Miss Keystone — and hopefully as Miss Pennsylvania — I will continue to spark excitement in Pennsylvania’s children to read and to develop their leadership skills,” Jones said.
Jones has published the children’s books “One More Book, Please!,” “The Line Leader” and “We Saved the Bees and Butterflies.” The stories emphasize literacy, encourage children to become leaders and promote science, technology, engineering, arts and math. She donates proceeds from the books’ sales to various educational causes.
Jones said participating in the Miss America competitions has enhanced her personal and professional development, has given her chances to develop leadership skills and has helped her prepare for the future.
Mantione’s social impact work is about empowering young girls and women. Mantione, a former Girl Scout, visits local Girl Scout troops and other organizations to do confidence-building workshops. She meets the girls, shares her insights and works to promote a better sense of confidence for young women.
The same insights go into her talent, a self-written monologue about confidence and the things she has learned form interviews she has done with women in her community.
“It’s a motivational speech and a personal testimony to being confident. I hope to inspire audiences to be more confident and it’s where I showcase one of my talents of public speaking,” she said.
Mantione just graduated from the University of Scranton with a degree in journalism and electronic media, and is interning with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. She previously interned with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and her participation in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant is a good experience for her planned career as a sports reporter.
Anyone interested in the Miss Pennsylvania event or local events should consider giving it a shot, she said.
“Work hard, prepare, do not be afraid if you are different. What makes you different and unique is what is so wonderful about this organization,” Mantione said. “It is a wonderful way to polish skills, real-world skills that help you in the future, and the Miss America organization is one of the leading scholarship programs for women in the world. It is a great opportunity to further yourself and learn more about who you truly are.”
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