This is not Cat Janisko’s first time rodeo on a Miss America’s state pageant stage.
Rewind to Cat at age 14– much other young teenagers, she is socially awkward, naive, and shy. Although she was an active member in her school’s band and choir, she had never thought of being on stage for anything close to the realm of pageantry. She was stubborn, but a family friend was finally able to convince her to compete for Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen. In 2006, she gave it a shot, competed as Miss Cambria County’s Outstanding Teen and came home 3rd runner up. She returned the following year as Miss Greater Juniata Valley’s Outstanding Teen, and even though she won both the non-finalist talent and interview awards, she was non-finalist. She did not make Top Ten. Some people may have found that discouraging, but for Cat: this was motivation.
Then, she took a short break from pageants to go away to college where she pursued vocal music in Nashville, Tennessee. When returning to Pennsylvania, she decide to pageantry another chance. She first competed in Miss Pennsylvania in 2012 as Miss Moraine State. There, she once again won talent and interview awards, and went home as 4th runner up. The following year, she returned as Miss Freedom Forge, and again went home 4th runner up.
This year, she will taking on the Empire State as she competes for the title of Miss New York 2014, as Miss Empire Rose.
As a titleholder, Cat is working hard to redefine the roles of women. She is an active volunteer with the national organization Dress for Success. This organization hopes to assist women in their pursuit of their career aspirations, and reach their potential. The staff helps underprivileged women prepare for the interview. They not only get help building their resume and cover letter, practice their interview delivery, and even what to wear in the interview. Every woman has dreams, and she shouldn’t be discouraged because of her gender. Each year, the Dress For Success Organization hosts their annual gala to inspire and empower women. Cat hopes to soon be able to attend one of these galas, possibly as Miss Empire Rose with a group of her Miss New York sisters. Sure, it’s a competition, but it’s a sisterhood. They’re all in this together.
Miss America is all about sisterhood. She has her sisters in Pennsylvania, and now New York sisters, but Cat also has a set of sisters in Missouri. Back when she first competed with Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen, the Miss Missouri Scholarship Program invited her out to perform. She has since returned each year perform, with other special guests from states across the country.
Currently, Cat is a journalist, and when it comes to interviews, she is usually the person asking all of the questions. But when she’s competing, her favorite stage is when she is answering the questions. Whichever side of the interview table she is on, Cat is able to connect and communicate. Every day is practice for the competition’s private interview.
She prepares for pageants with her mind, because she knows that winning is all a matter of positive mentality. She firmly believes that over preparation is the recipe for disaster. Of course she goes to the gym, to live a healthy lifestyle, but the ability to walk on stage half naked in front of hundreds of people, Cat needs to have the attitude and mindset that she is fully clothed.
Although Cat is already dressing for success, and has her dream job as a journalist in northern New York, competing in the Miss America Organization has given her every strength and skill set she needs to be successful. She has phenomenal interview skills, her self confidence is soaring, and she has exceptional networking ans marketing experiences. And even though she started her journey in to Miss America in Pennsylvania, she feels blessed to be taking the last step of this journey in the Empire State. Who knows, maybe one of you readers will be alone in you apartment with a big bowl of popcorn in your lap, lost in the Miss America-watching zone, as Cat Janisko competes as Miss New York 2014.
As my Dad always says “Cat, you know how these things go. Just be you. That’s all the world wants.“