Rachel Barcellona will make history as the first contestant with autism at the Miss Florida pageant.
Rachel Barcellona will make history as the first contestant with autism at the Miss Florida pageant.

Rachel Barcellona is a 22-year-old college student set to become the first contestant with autism to take the stage of 2019 Miss Florida pageant.

Concise News gathered that Barcellona is a junior at the university of Florida who began participating in pageants when she was five and she will also be competing for Miss Florida Preliminary competition on June 25.

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Speaking with CNN, Barcellona said “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.”

However, she said “I want to use my voice to inspire hope to others,” Barcellona told CNN affiliate WFTS in April after being selected to speak at the United Nations for World Autism Day.

“Awareness is OK, but we need acceptance.” She agitated and she further said “I want people to know that autism does not hold me back, It is actually an opportunity for me to achieve my dreams.”

The Tampa Bay resident credited her mother, a nurse practitioner, as a driving force in her young life. She has competed in pageants on and off since she was 5, and Barcellona told the stations she aspires for more.