Masters Alum Becomes Finalist in Miss New York Pagaent


Courtesy of Gabriella Bavaro

Bavaro, who graduated Masters in 2016, in a production of Rent at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre

Sarah Faber, Staff Writer


Gabriella Bavaro, Class of 2016, was scrolling through Instagram when she saw an advertisement for the Miss New York pageant. Now, a few months later, she is a finalist for Miss New York.

Bavaro, a junior at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, is currently studying a mix of  fiction writing, marketing, journalism and performance. “Something that really stuck out to me was that the current Miss New York is actually a huge advocate for immigrants coming to New York. She’s an immigrant herself who worked night school in order to get a degree and pursue her dreams here,” Bavaro said regarding her initial reasoning for applying for the pageant. “I thought that was amazing, and really inspiring, and I thought ‘Okay, maybe this isn’t just about being blonde and waving.’”

The application process involved submitting a headshot, and writing about the ways in which the unique platform of being Miss New York would be utilized, followed by a phone interview.

The winner of the pageant will not only go on to compete in the Miss USA pageant, but will also win $10,000, a guaranteed modeling contract, and will have the opportunity to make appearances. If she wins, Bavaro would use her platform to talk about mental health reform domestic violence towards women.  Having suffered from mental illness herself, Bavaro hopes sharing her story will help destigmatize issues surrounded mental illness. “The date of the competition is actually the one year discharge date for myself from a mental hospital. This issue is something I’m really passionate about, and I really think we need to normalize it,” Bavaro said. “People are often sheltered from getting help and realizing that these issues must be dealt with. I think that discussion of trauma needs to happen.”

The pageant itself is a three-day-long competition at SUNY Purchase, right near Bavaro’s home in Dobbs Ferry. The pageant involves another interview with the judges (off camera) to learn about the contestant’s professional goals, and views on the state of women today and female advocacy. “They’re really looking for a personality, a story, and an insight in that first portion,” Bavaro said. Next, contestants compete in a physical fitness/swimwear modeling portion and then an eveningwear portion. Then, after the pool of finalists has been narrowed down, contestants are asked a final question.

“At the end of the day, I’m really grateful for the experience because of the amazing women and walks of life that I get to see. [The competition] is really not something I expected to do. It’s really not my scene. Being able to deal with feeling so out of odds is something that I think Masters really gave to me in the sense that you go into things with a really open heart and open mind.”