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There She Goes ... Miss Virginia 2006

Adrianna Sgarlata represented Arlington in the competition and now goes on to Miss America pageant.

There was not a single rhinestone anywhere on her dress. This fact alone may not sound like much at first, but we're talking about a beauty pageant winner.

Miss Virginia 2006, Adrianna Sgarlata, was lovely, victorious, and rhinestone-free the night of the competition. On June 24th in Roanoke, Sgarlata entered the pageant as Miss Arlington. Her win means she will now compete in Miss America 2006, representing the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Her decision to eschew the typical adornment is reflective of her staunch belief of remaining true to oneself. "Not that there's anything wrong with rhinestones," she said with a laugh. "It just wasn't me."

SITTING IN a photographer's studio, picking out glamour shots with the help of Miss Virginia 2005 Kristi Glakas of Centreville, it's all "becoming extremely real" to Sgarlata, who lives in Fairfax Station.

A little over a week ago, she was merely Miss Arlington, one of the 19 hopefuls. Yet, as Sgarlata is quick to point out, being in the presence of such accomplished women worked to ease her nerves.

"I was very calm ... and confident that the right person would win. Whoever that person was would do a great job ... We had 20 Miss Virginias on the stage that night," she said.

A winning light had already been cast upon Sgarlata, as she had been named the talent winner in the preliminaries for her outstanding vocal ability in singing a Puccini opera.

"When they called out my name, I just burst into tears. It's an unreal feeling ... you're carrying on a legacy," said Sgarlata. "It's so much more than a pageant."

A cancelled family vacation turned into an inspiring episode for Sgarlata: "I was watching TV," she recalled. "And on comes "Miss America." I thought to myself 'Wouldn't it be fun to do one?'" After trying her hand in a few competitions, Sgarlata was bitten by the pageant bug.

"I was learning a lot about myself, practicing my public-speaking skills, doing community service, and meeting new people. It was also a way to earn scholarship money, and ... make myself a better-rounded person," she said.

A sturdy backbone comprised of her family, boyfriend (a captain in the army), friends (including former Miss Virginia Kristi Glakas), and voice teacher, has given Sgarlata the support network enabling her to succeed. She credits her parents, Joseph and Elizabeth, for being "so patient with the process of going through a pageant — it can be grueling ... and time-consuming."

Sgarlata’s voice teacher at George Mason University (where she graduated in 2005, and currently attends as a graduate student), Patricia Miller, has also been influential in her life, imparting valuable advice throughout the process. "She taught me it's OK to make mistakes ... and to turn everything into a learning experience."

As Sgarlata explains, the four points on the Miss America crown stand for scholarship, service, success and style. Throughout her reign as Miss America, the lucky woman strives to exemplify these ideals.

SHE HAS focused her attention on promoting anti-bullying policies. She has spoken with middle-school students on the long-term consequences of bullying, and on the importance of respecting one another.

Sgarlata is not a mere passive observer — she successfully lobbied for two anti-bullying laws, and she went on to attend the Governor's signing ceremony. The laws set up parameters that schools must follow in order to curb bullying.

As for the future, Sgarlata says it all depends on what happens this year, which she describes as being a "life-changing" one. She sees herself possibly traveling to Europe to sing opera professionally.

Regardless, she plans to continue public speaking out on behalf of her platform, taking her position as the Virginia Chapter Director of Bully Police USA very seriously.

Whether she follows the path of opera or community service, Sgarlata possesses the ambition and charisma to make the most of whatever the future has in store.