ALTOONA – Rachel Syktich, 23, of DuBois was crowned Miss Pennsylvania International 2013 Saturday at the Jaffa Shrine Center Auditorium in Altoona.
“I’m still living on cloud nine,” said Syktich. “I was the Clearfield County Fair Queen [in 2009], but this was my very first beauty pageant. I love that it focused on young, beautiful women who are helping their communities.”
Miss International is a premiere pageant for young women who are ages 19 to 29 years. The pageant gives them opportunities to open doors for women around the world. Women find these opportunities to work with others to become positive role models. In addition, the pageant gives each contestant the opportunity to learn about customs and family life in other countries, along with the chance to share a platform.
Syktich has selected Big Brothers Big Sisters as her platform for the Miss International Program. As a third grader, she struggled in school and socially. She was in the Title I program and also a part of the local BBBS program. Syktich said she was surrounded with mentors who boosted her confidence and “changed her life.”
She graduated high school and college with honors. Now, she’s giving back to the BBBS program as a mentor to local children. “I’ve been involved with the program for 14 years. I apply it in my everyday life and in my job. It’s not really a job through when it’s what you love.”
Syktich said the pageant consisted of four phases: the interview competition (40 percent); the evening gown (20 percent); the fitness wear (20 percent) and the fun fashion competition (20 percent). She competed against nine other women from across Pennsylvania for the Miss Pennsylvania International 2013 crown.
“You have this feeling in mind. You always wish about it. You want to hear, ‘And, the next Miss Pennsylvania International is fill in the blank,’” said Syktich. “I had to ask, ‘is this really me?’ I had to look around and make sure that it was me.
“Everyone around me was congratulating me. It was just a really blessed feeling. I had a crowd of family and friends and these amazing contestants with me. It was just so surreal.”
Syktich will compete in the Miss International 2013 competition July 26-27 at the Northshore Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago, Ill. She’s beginning to prepare with her main focus being on her BBBS platform.
“It’s fun to get all dressed up, but the main goal, the main focus is to promote what I love,” she said. Syktich said she’s not limited to helping only BBBS and is available for community appearances through the state’s Pageant Director Jodi Cessna, who can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.
Kelsey Landy was the reigning Miss Pennsylvania International for 2012. She congratulated Syktich on her Official Facebook page, promising her that “You’ll have a wonderful year.”