Whitestone resident Margaret Skourlis may be a pageant queen, but she’s a beauty with a brain and a killer resume.
The former Miss Supermodel USA-Petite was back on the pageant circuit this month as the New York representative in the national Ms. UNITE pageant, a charity event to benefit victims of domestic violence. While she did not raise enough donation money to place in the top spots of Ms. UNITE, Skourlis, 34, is a seasoned competitor who won her first title in the Miss Greek Independence Pageant as Miss Messina 2001, and has competed in a total of 15 pageants in her career.
“I’ve grown drastically in that [with] every pageant title I’ve held throughout my life, I was able to do different things to help different communities,” said Skourlis.
Although Skourlis herself has deep roots in Queens, having been born in Astoria and then moving to Whitestone at age 4, her father is originally from the Greek city of Kalamata and her mother is of Greek descent as well. The beauty queen promotes Greek tourism while competing in pageants in order to help stimulate the country’s economy during its current times of international debt and financial crisis.
Skourlis is also involved in giving back to the local Greek community by serving as the vice president of the Intercollegiate Hellenic Society, a nonprofit aimed at bringing together young people to promote Hellenic culture. The organization helps students get firsthand experience studying abroad and has a longstanding relationship with Montreal, a city that Skourlis has promoted in pageants in an effort to increase tourism.
“For years, we’ve been sending students to the city of Montreal, to experience the beauty of Montreal and to learn about the antiquity,” said Skourlis, who enjoys visiting restaurants and cafes in the old port of the Canadian city.
While the average person might feel satisfied if they had all of Skourlis’ accomplishments, she is always striving to learn more and broaden her own skill set. She is currently making her way through an online course with Harvard University to learn computer programing, but she already has a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and 16 certifications from Cornell University, along with paralegal, modeling and real estate sales certifications.
“When you meet different people you learn different things, but then getting background knowledge helps you change the world,” said Skourlis. “And my real goal is to be able to help the world and change people’s lives.”