Pittsburgh native Elena LaQuatra is a few days away from the moment she will appear on stage in Las Vegas, vying for the title of Miss USA.
Add your stereotypes here if you wish— but Elena is no simple beauty queen and her story is much more than a pretty face you see.
In addition to being born and raised in a tight-knit Greek family and community in Pittsburgh, she spent summers in Greece with her grandparents on the island of Ithaki.
And if her Greekness wasn’t enough to get our support— how about her remarkable story of resilience— a true example to anyone who has been faced with tough experiences in life.
At the young age of four, Elena came down with meningitis and lost her hearing in both ears. Imagine being deaf at 4 and having to learn how to speak again. Today, she wears a cochlear ear implant and spent much of her childhood learning basic things that come natural to most kids.
And Elena gives back. Despite a grueling schedule as a broadcast journalist, successful completion of her studies at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and maintaining her beauty queen status and numerous appearances, she spends time with deaf children, encouraging them to celebrate their differences and go out there and take on the world— just like Elena did when she was a kid.
The Miss USA pageant has instituted an online voting mechanism that allows the general public to vote for one “audience favorite” who will automatically make the Top 15.
You can visit here and vote for Elena every day until the pageant, which takes place in Las Vegas on June 5th.