Ponte Vedra teen sets sights on Miss America


Between maintaining a 4.0 GPA at the University of Florida, volunteering with UF Shands Hospital and practicing with the UF dance team, Ariana Genovese maintains an already busy schedule.

Now the 19-year-old Ponte Vedra resident has added a new task and goal to her To Do list: pursuing the Miss Florida title. Genovese – who currently holds the title of Miss Ponte Vedra – will compete in the statewide pageant this summer in Lakeland. Should she be successful and win the Florida crown, she would represent the state in the Miss America pageant.

It’s uncharted territory for Genovese, who graduated last year in the top 10 percent of her class as a Biotechnology Academy student at Ponte Vedra High School.

“I’m pretty new to the pageant world – my first was actually in the Ponte Vedra High School pageant, which I decided to do for fun because my friends were participating, too,” Genovese said. “Shortly after, I was asked to represent the school at the High School Sweetheart Pageant.”

The then high school senior won first place, an honor that led the pageant’s director to encourage Genovese to participate in the Miss Ponte Vedra pageant. Juggling competitive dance at Debbie’s Dance in Mandarin, her studies and her duties as president of Ponte Vedra High School’s Red Cross, she decided to try for the title the following year – and won.

Her natural transition to the pageant world may come as no surprise as a glimpse at Genovese’s resume shows honors won in pageantry, science, dance and waterskiing. She was the Eastern Region Swivel 1 Show Ski Champion in 2013, placed fourth in the state in microbiology for a project about chelator proteins, ammonium iron (III) citrate and Bacillus thuringiensis, and won nationals with her dance team for two consecutive years. She is also certified in biotechnology through the Biotechnician Assistant Credentialing Exam (BACE).

Now, Genovese intends to use the pageant platform for the greater good. Building on her involvement with the Children’s Miracle Network and Body Image Movement, Genovese will perform a self-choreographed piece promoting positive body image at the Florida pageant that she hopes she’ll also be able to present at the Miss America competition. Her goal, she said, is to create awareness for the issue and help society see that no body type is superior to or more beautiful than the next.

“I definitely want to show young men and women that you are not defined by your waistline – you’re worth more than a composite score of your flaws,” she said. “I want every young person to see themselves as beautiful. We can show everyone they’re worth so much more than things of that nature, and it would be extremely revolutionary for a Miss America to undertake such a platform.”