Kristina Janolo, the third consecutive University of Central Florida student crowned Miss Florida, said she learned more about herself than she envisioned she would during her one-year term that soon comes to a close.
“You don’t know what you’re made of until you stretch yourself,” she said. “I don’t know how I did it all. There is a lot of glitz and glamour – but it is a full-time job.” She made more than 250 official appearances during the year around the state, Washington, D.C., and other national destinations.
Janolo, a marketing major from Kissimmee, entered the Miss Florida Pageant as Miss Winter Park, and was a top-12 finalist last summer at the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas. Come July 7, she’ll turn over her crown in St. Petersburg to the next chosen Miss Florida.
Janolo said it will be a “bittersweet moment to open a new chapter in my life.” She has competed in scholarship pageants for six years and has won $35,000 toward her education. Her term follows the reigns of two other UCF women to become Miss Florida: Rachael Todd in 2009 and Jacqueline Raulerson in 2010.
One of her top memories, she said, was getting the chance to lobby before legislators in Washington about the Everglades and her platform, America’s Wake Up Call – Protect Our Environment.
“The thing about protecting our environment is that it is a lifestyle. You just don’t promote it for a year. You have to live it,” she said.
Protecting the environment is important to her for another reason. As someone with chronic asthma, she is concerned about air quality.
“Often we don’t even think about it, but some days it is really a high risk to be outside,” she said. “Two years ago I started running to build up my lungs and ended up finding that I love it. I’ll be running my first half marathon in January.”
She also is an advocate for rights of the elderly and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“She has been our busiest Miss Florida to date,” said Mary E. Sullivan, executive director and president of Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant Inc.
“She lobbied in Washington and Tallahassee for clean water and preserving and restoring the Everglades, which went hand in hand with her platform. She has been an incredible representative of the Miss Florida program.”
Classes resume for Janolo next week after taking off the year for her pageant travels and duties. She re-enters the classroom as a senior and with the goal to one day be the executive director of a nonprofit organization. She is scheduled to graduate in May.
“The beauty of being Miss Florida is that it opened my eyes to so many things,” she said. “Now I have a year to focus on my degree.”