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Rockaway Teen Dreams of Becoming Miss New York Teen USA

Having young role models for our Rockaway youth is significant for the growth of our community. Rockaway’s very own Danielle Guglielmo, age 17, is just that. A senior at Scholars’ Academy and now a contestant for Miss New York Teen USA. “Confidently Beautiful” is the main message of the pageant being held later this month in Purchase, NY. “They are advocating for feeling positive and happy in your own skin,” Guglielmo says.

Being in a pageant is not something the Rockaway Park teen was expecting to do. “I always thought about modeling or being in pageants, but I did not think I had the body type. I am only 5’2 and have a more muscular body,” says Guglielmo.  But after seeing an ad on Instagram and thinking to herself, “why not try,” she applied and got the call back for Miss New York Teen USA.

“Some people are actually surprised that I am in the pageant. Their response is ‘but you’re not tall or rail thin’ and I respond back with ‘things are different now,’” she says with a big smile. Instead of a swimsuit competition, the pageant will be having fitness wear competition. This is one of her favorite parts about the pageant, as they are advocating for fitness and well-being, instead of having the ideal model body. The pageant will also include an interview portion and an evening gown category. “This pageant is one way Danielle again proves that if you want something bad enough, you go out and get it,” Linda Guglielmo, Danielle’s mother, said. “My husband and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Being part of Miss New York Teen USA has also helped Danielle to break out of her shell. “This pageant has allowed her to step out of her comfort zone and really put herself out there,” says her mother. “I am shy, unless it is someone I know or I’m comfortable with, but being part of this helped me with that,” Gugliemo said. From practicing for interviews, public speaking and asking for sponsorships, she says she has gained more confidence in herself. “I had to go around asking businesses for sponsorships and was afraid to ask people for money,” she said.  However, she worked up the courage though and was able to get sponsorships from many local businesses that were happy to support her. Businesses like Elegante Pizzeria, Harbor Optics, Bungalow Bar and Assemblywoman Stacey Amato are just a few of her many local supporters.

A resident of Rockaway Park since the age of 11, Guglielmo has been keeping busy with her education, working, and her athletic activities — gymnastics and cheerleading. However, after tearing a ligament in her ankle sophomore year, she had to put cheerleading and gymnastics on hold. “After I got better, I made the decision to focus more on school,” Guglielmo said. Still wanting to be involved with the team, her coach soon offered her a position, which she happily accepted. She now volunteers to help coach cheerleading, from high school freshmen to seniors.

On top of everything, Gugliemlo is also focusing on her college applications and her job at Marine Park Veterinary Group in Brooklyn. “I love working with animals and I want to be a veterinarian,” she said. “I applied to colleges with the top vet programs, such as Cornell.” She is waiting to hear back from her top choices and will soon make the tough choice of where to continue her education. Guglielmo says that after her cat died, she knew she wanted to get involved in the veterinary business and help sick animals. “My vet offered me a volunteer position at the office and a month later they offered me a job,” she said. She has been working there since December 2016 and says she’s grateful for the opportunity to be helping animals. She also has animals of her own that she cares for, including two Pomeranian dogs, Lola and Kylie, and a Persian cat named Bentley that that she loves dearly. Animal rights and welfare are among her top interests, which is why she’ll be advocating for these issues at the pageant. “I want to help no kill shelters and promote spaying and neutering animals,” she says. 

Dr. Peter Montella, Veterinary physician at Marine Park Veterinary Group said, “Danielle has continuously proven herself to be an important asset to our team. I can vouch for her character and drive, and have no doubt she will continue to be successful in her endeavors.”

Oddly enough, from working with animals and learning about illnesses, she was able to apply her knowledge to saving someone close to her heart—her father. “One day at work, a dog came in and the side of his face looked droopy. We soon found out that the dog had a stroke,” Guglielmo said. Later that evening, she was telling her parents about the dog that came into the office. That’s when she noticed something odd about one of her father’s eyes. “His eye looked like it was sagging a little bit and reminded me of what I just saw at work,” she said. It didn’t seem so alarming at first, so her father did not get it checked out right away.  As time passed, they noticed it progressively getting worse and she advised her father to get it checked out immediately. He soon found out it was a brain aneurysm and had to undergo brain surgery. She took that incident as a sign to keep pursuing her career and as a blessing for her father. “He is doing a lot better now,” Guglielmo says. “He is one of my biggest supporters, he always says, ‘Oh I can see you being on television or being in commercials one day’,” she said cheerfully.

In less than two weeks, Guglielmo will be competing in the pageant. It will be held from January 12-14 at The Purchase College Performing Arts Center in Purchase, NY.

Guglielmo says she is grateful for all the support her family, friends and community has shown her. “Sometimes I think to myself, ‘Is this real?’” she says with a laugh. “This community has given so much support and I would like to thank all of them for their generous donations,” Linda Guglielmo said. “I know one thing for sure, whatever Danielle sets her mind on she will achieve.”

“There is nothing but greatness ahead for Danielle,” says her godfather, Glenn Schaeffer. “My daughter, Gabriella, has always looked up to her as an older sister,” he added.

The winner of the Miss New York Teen USA will go on to represent the state of New York in the 2018 Miss Teen USA pageant and will spend a year as a teen ambassador. Guglielmo and her family are excited for the future, no matter what happens with the pageant. “It’s not about the winning, it’s about the journey and we couldn’t be more proud to watch her discover, and grow as an individual,” Linda Guglielmo said.

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