Faith drives Teen USA pageant winner by: John Franko | Pittsburgh Catholic Newspaper

There are many perks that go with winning a pageant, but for Julia Belechak the chance to do charity work is what makes the experience so enjoyable. 

“God gave me the opportunity to have this blessing, and I just want to help as many people as I can,” she said. 

A senior at Vincentian Academy in McCandless Township, she was crowned Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2012 in December. 

Belechak, 17, has welcomed the opportunity to meet different people and share their stories.
She has appeared at numerous events, among them the LoveWalk for the Poor in February. She addressed the gathering, which included many of her peers. 

“Faith has always been very important to me,” she said of the experience. “It’s good to see that it’s also important to a lot of other people.” 

She has also enjoyed the chance to return to the Woodlands Foundation, a non-profit organization serving the needs of children and young adults with disabilities and chronic illness, located in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. She has served as a volunteer with the organization for a number of years. 

Julia is the daughter of Joe and Michelle Belechak of Cranberry Township. She has a brother, Joe, 19, and a sister, Joanna, 11. 

The Belechaks are members of St. Kilian in Adams/Cranberry townships, where Julia helps her father teach in the religious education program. She also helps coach the cheerleading squad at the parish school and with the community food bank based at St. Ferdinand in Cranberry. 

At Vincentian Academy, Belechak is the captain of the cheerleading squad and is on the prom committee.
She credits her family for keeping her well-grounded. 

Michelle pointed out that her children have been taught the value of faith, family and education, and one of the stipulations for allowing Julia to pursue a modeling career and compete in pageants was that her grades would not be allowed to suffer. She has responded by maintaining an honor-roll status. 

Their family recognizes the blessings they have been given and the value to give back to the community, Michelle said. She has a favorite sentence that her children often finish for her: 

“God has put you here on this earth to help other people and to treat other people kindly,” she said.
She noted Julia’s joy in reaching out to others, particularly when it comes to the children at the Woodlands Foundation. 

“She is in her glory when she is there,” Michelle said. 

Julia will represent Pennsylvania at the 2012 Miss Teen USA Pageant this summer. The date and location have not been determined. 

She became interested in pageant competition in her freshman year in high school while being homeschooled during a bout with mononucleosis. 

Julia has appeared in commercials for the Pirates and modeled in shows for retailers. 

She plans to attend either Duquesne University or Fordham University in New York and pursue a career in broadcast journalism as an entertainment reporter. 

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in,” she said.

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