FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University graduate Gina Carloto ’21, MBA ’23 recently won the title of Miss Connecticut, a step up from her previous Miss Fairfield County crown. She now advances to the Miss America pageant. With each new achievement, she has been focused on giving back to her community.
“I feel incredibly accomplished and proud,” Carloto said. “During my five days at the competition, I had the privilege to share the stage with so many successful women. It was amazing to work with the esteemed panel of judges and I loved sharing my passion with the audience. At the end of the competition, I knew that no matter the outcome, I left my heart on that stage. I am grateful to share in this sisterhood and have the opportunity of a lifetime to be Miss Connecticut 2023.”
The Miss Connecticut pageant took place mid-June at Mohegan Sun. It is part of the Miss America Organization, which espouses four pillars: style, service, scholarship and success—all centered around sisterhood. It was the community service component that spoke to Carloto and convinced her to become a contestant.
“I aspire to lead by example through my commitment to community service that my mom instilled in me from a young age. The sisterhood that the organization promotes has given me a wonderful community of successful women committed to helping others,” said Carloto.
Her mother, who lost her battle with cancer last summer, is the inspiration behind Carloto’s service project, The Grace Collective. It comprises HEAL initiatives—an acronym for health, education, advocacy and love—and aims to inspire and help people maintain healthy lifestyles in Fairfield County and beyond.
The Grace Collective is unique, Carloto said, because it enables her to connect with the community on multiple levels. “A lot of girls [in the pageant] focus on one cause, such as advocating for ending domestic violence, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. However, I wanted my service initiative to be all-encompassing to pivot to various audiences,” she said.
Carloto will use funds she raises to host speakers and create media to promote the healthy mind and body relationship that her mother valued in addition to contributing donations to Smilow Cancer Hospital. “My community service initiative was founded because of everything my mother inspired me to do,” she said.
SHU also played a role in Carloto’s commitment to service. The University’s mission is to educate the whole person while preparing students to lead and serve in the world today, and that philosophy resonated with her as an undergraduate and graduate student.
Carloto earned her bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from SHU’s Jack Welch College of Business & Technology. She currently works as a fund accountant at a hedge fund. “Sacred Heart has become a part of who I am. It’s part of my identity, and I’m very proud that I attended. My mom was incredibly proud of my education and grateful for the unending support I received from SHU, my professors, advisers and peers,” Carloto said.
She hopes to give back to others one day by creating a scholarship for current and incoming Sacred Heart students. She said she is grateful to the University for creating a safe, healthy and supportive space for her to grow, learn and succeed.
“I’m eager to give back to the Miss Connecticut scholarship organization through fundraising and initiating new sponsorships with local businesses and organizations, in addition to maintaining relationships with existing sponsors,” she said.
Photos by Catherine Fiehn Photography
About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing private doctoral institutions in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has a campus in Dingle, Ireland, and offers online programs. More than 10,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 388 Colleges–2023 Edition, and Best Business Schools–2023 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre. www.sacredheart.edu