22-year-old Rachel Barcellona living with autism is set to become the first of her kind to compete in the Miss Florida pageant later this month.
Barcellona who began participating in pageants when she was five, is preparing to compete in the 2019 Miss Florida preliminary competition on June 25.
Young Barcellona is a junior at the University of South Florida. She claims she’s been challenging perceptions of autism all her life, noting that “I was basically promised that I would never graduate any school really or have any friends.”
“Pretty much everything bad was going to happen to me because I have autism,” Barcellona said of the feedback she received when she was younger.
“I had depression and anxiety in middle school so then I resumed when I was thirteen and that is when I really got into it because it helped me make friends and build my confidence,” Barcellona said.