Joanne Salcedo, 23, has been chosen to represent her native Flushing in the 2012 Miss New York USA pageant. She’s now seeking sponsors to help her cover the entry fee.
A full-time grad student also employed full-time, this 5 feet 5 inch bombshell hopes to balance modeling ambitions with a career in school counseling.
Salcedo was born in Flushing and raised Catholic by a tight-knit Dominican family. Her parents, Jose and Anna, emigrated to New York from the city of Moca, Dominican Republic. She lives with her parents and two younger brothers. She also has an older sister, Diane, 27, who she calls her “other half.”
“I’m very attached to my roots and where I’m from,” Salcedo said of her Dominican traditions and native Flushing.
She used to summer in the DR before enrolling at Queens College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2010. Now she’s working towards a master’s in school counseling at St. John’s University. Salcedo and her siblings are the first generation in her family to be college-educated.
“I’ve always been interested in helping people. And psychology, the mind and how it works — why we behave certain ways. I was just drawn to it from the beginning,” she said.
She saw counseling as “a middle ground” between her desire to teach children and her deep interest in psychology.
Salcedo was also drawn to fashion growing up, especially the world of Victoria Secret Angels like Tyra Banks and Adrian Lima. She’d like to model on the runway or in commercials, but she’s not too picky.
Salcedo didn't go searching for her first modeling shoot, the gig found her. Her colleagues at Scent-sation, a home furnishings warehouse in Woodside where she’s worked as an administrator for two years, urged her to model for the packaging of one of there products, the Sleep Pocket.
Her sister Diana, who acts as her talent manager, has encouraged her since she was small to be a beauty queen. With a BA in the bag, Salcedo was finally ready this year to turn a dream into reality.
“I like the whole idea of the pageant because it links not only into my modeling ambitions, but also into my field, which is helping. They really encourage fundraising and charities and all that stuff. I kinda gravitated towards that instead of just modeling.”
In addition to modeling and counseling, Salcedo is involved in philanthropy. She and her sister helped raise $28,000 selling raffle tickets at a charitable golf outing. The money went towards education scholarships and breast cancer treatment. She also worked for Americorps while at Queens College, painting schools, tutoring children and distributing donated Christmas gifts at Brooklyn schools.
Now that she’s a candidate for Miss New York, Salcedo and her family are busy getting the word out and finding sponsors to donate towards her $2,000 entry fee. Fliers, business cards, even glow-in-the-dark rubber support bracelets ordered in bulk by her boyfriend (sorry fellas, she’s taken).
“My entire family is super supportive of me,” she said. “They’re so enthusiastic and they help promote me all the time. They’re really into it.”
She appeared on Dominicanyorktv.com, and her uncle even got her on television and radio in the DR, where she has a fan base.
“I have like a group of cheerleaders, it’s crazy. I’m really fortunate,” Salcedo said.
Salcedo recently won a style contest held by fashion firm Notre Mode, which offered her a private photo shoot. Her other pageant sponsors include Babylon Honda, Soka Trading and Papazzio Restaurant in Bayside.
Over 100 gorgeous young candidates will compete for the Miss New York USA title, judged in three categories: evening gown, swimwear and an interview.
Salcedo’s gowns — designed by her cousin Lidiana Moronta — await cutting and sewing. Salcedo says they match her style: “simple but fashionable, sexy but elegant … with neutral colors.”
Some candidates are representing landmarks like the Statute of Liberty and Fashion Avenue instead of neighborhoods or towns. Vanessa Bontea, 24, of Rego Park, is representing Queens College.
After obtaining her master’s, Salcedo plans to help children overcome educational, social and emotional barriers as a school counselor. She’ll also pursue a modeling career.
The Miss New York USA 2012 pageant will be held Jan. 13 to 15 at Purchase College Performing Arts Center in Purchase, NY.
To become a sponsor for Salcedo, email email@example.com or call her talent manager, Diane, at (347) 886-6330.