Vanessa Minnillo, 17, MISS TEEN USA 1998, hails from South Carolina, and is the model of teenage enthusiasm, ambition and success. Vanessa has become an early expert at prioritizing: from maintaining her honors classes and 3.7 GPA, to actively participating in cheerleading, interviews, photo shoots, and volunteering with charities. She eagerly pursues her new obligations as MISS TEEN USA while she digs into the challenge of selecting a college for next year.
Vanessa, a military daughter who attended seven different schools throughout her childhood, is currently a high school senior who is looking forward to new college opportunities. After her May graduation, Vanessa hopes to attend Duke University as a psychology major, but has left her options open for other courses of study. Her career interests also include acting or hosting in both television and feature films. She showed great promise in this field, when she made an appearance on “LIVE with Regis and Kathie Lee” and surprised them both with her natural broadcast talent.
s a representative of the new, ‘redefined’ Miss Universe Organization, Vanessa will travel throughout the country acting in behalf of its sponsors and official charities,. She will work hand in hand with the Miss Universe Organization to plan a meaningful year-round program to meet her personal, educational and charitable goals – a year filled with activities that will help her advance her scholastic and journalistic ideals.
Of Filipino, Irish and Italian decent, Vanessa is the daughter of Vince and Donna Minnillo. Vince is a retired Air Force Aircrew Member who, along his twenty-seven year career, traveled around the world, bringing his family to such far-reaching places as the Philippines (Vanessa’s birthplace), Germany, Japan, Turkey and dozens of US locations. Donna, a Laboratory Medical Technologist, spent a portion of her career in a crime laboratory deciphering DNA codes to assist solving crimes. She now works in microbiology identifying ailments and diseases.
s the first winner in the MISS TEEN USA Pageant’s sixteen-year history to hail from South Carolina, one of Vanessa’s objectives while she is MISS TEEN USA is to share a taste of her state’s rich culture and history with the entire country. This grand task will come effortlessly for such a dynamic personality as Vanessa, who quickly won the hearts – and laughs – of thousands, with her sense of humor and dry wit during interview segments of this year’s CBS broadcast of the MISS TEEN USA Pageant in August,
According to Vanessa, the most important thing she can convey during her reign is humility. “I won by being myself, now I must carry out my title by being the same person I was when I won. Being famous and remaining humble is very genuine and each titleholder, including myself, must do her best to convey that she can be both.”