Salera adds Miss R.I. Italia to her pageant portfolio

Salera adds Miss R.I. Italia to her pageant portfolio

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Ariana Salera, an 18-year-old graduating senior at La Salle Academy, added Miss Rhode Island Italia to her list of accomplishments last month after winning Miss Rhode Island Teen U.S.A. in 2014.

Salera, the daughter of Dena and Jamie Salera, said she’s proud to represent local Italians as the 2016 winner and plans to use the title to speak out against bullying between young people, especially in cyberspace.

Salera said her mom, Dena, started dressing her up and taking lots of pictures of her as a child, but it wasn’t until she became a teenager that she became interested in the pageant scene.

“It just kind of occurred to me randomly that I should try this,” she said.

Dena Salera said her daughter has many academic achievements to complement her beauty, and she plans to use both as she tries to do good for her community. Academics have always been most important to her, said Ariana, and will continue to be as she heads to the University of Rhode Island to study biology with the pre-med focus.

The National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society member says she’s all about spending time with family and friends. Her Catholic faith is also important to her, she said. Her mother said she has long been an active volunteer in the community, feeding the homeless, participating in clubs and school, and being a member of the Lasallian Youth, Best Buddies, and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

As Miss Rhode Island Italia, Salera will participate in many events, including the Columbus Day Parade on Federal Hill.

Her message to young girls who might aspire to be a beauty pageant winner is to “believe in yourself, because I’d never done a pageant before and I was a semifinalist” in the Miss R.I. Teen competition. “Everything’s possible, and it’s not all about beauty.”

The former Johnston resident said she answered questions from the judges about her Italian heritage, which includes plenty of good cooking. She said she plans to promote the Italian heritage at every chance she gets.

Salera said she has had a strong awareness about the effects of bullying since middle school. Part of her platform will be to lobby school administrators on the evolving challenges of bullying and how they can address it.