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Andreia Gibau ’18CPS

St. John’s public relations major Andreia Gibau ’18CPS combines her passion for service with a lifelong interest in pageant competition. Last March, she won the Miss Teen New York contest with a platform emphasizing her involvement with Best Buddies, an organization that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Gibau, also a top-15 competitor in the 2013 Miss Teen Massachusetts pageant, became involved with Best Buddies out of a desire to prevent bullying like that experienced by her cousin, who is autistic.

"I wanted to stand up for her,” said Gibau, “and for every kid who was bullied because they had intellectual disabilities." She started a chapter at St. John's last September that currently numbers over 40 members.

Next semester, St. John’s Best Buddies will be paired with Queens elementary students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. "The hope,” she said, “is that they will form friendships that allow the young students to develop self-esteem and flourish," she said.

“Competing in pageants has increased my confidence,” stressed Gibau, who hopes to carve out a career as a TV personality or start her own business. "It also emphasizes public speaking skills and being able to converse with a diverse range of people.” In July, she will compete in Miss Teen United States in Washington, DC.

Gibau said the Vincentian mission of St. John's has become an integral part of her life. "I love the way service is celebrated here,” she noted. “It pushes you to do even more, and whatever I've done will hopefully inspire others."