Marisa Sergi was crowned as Miss New York Collegiate America 2015 and is also one of How to be a Redhead’s Select Influencers. She is currently enrolled at Cornell University as a Viticulture and Enology major and has founded her own wine called RedHead in honor of her red hair. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a passion to help the community, we interviewed her to give other women the opportunity to feel inspired by her story. “Miss Collegiate America’s platform is an anti-bullying campaign called B.R.A.V.E, which standing for ‘Building Respect And Values For Everyone’. I resonate with the platform and want to share my personal story and help others to persevere through their struggles,” says Marisa. “I love being a role model and encourage others to treat each other with respect, to be kind and caring.”
We talked with Marisa about how it was growing up as a redhead, her favorite ‘Redhead Friendly’ beauty products and much more:
H2BAR: Growing up as a natural redhead, did you face bullying at school?
MS: In high school, I was teased for having red hair. I felt insecure and thought that my hair defined me in a negative way. I begged my mother to let me dye it and I am so grateful she did not allow me to! Then I decided to live my life accepting my hair and my looks instead of loathing them. By working through my struggles, I became a stronger person due to enduring these experiences which helped shape me into the person I am today. I now encourage redheads– and everyone–to embrace their unique qualities and love who they are.
H2BAR: What are your goals while you have your title as Miss New York Collegiate America 2015?
MS: To promote anti-bullying practices in schools and surrounding communities. I am working on a scholarship fund for those who embody the characteristics to help endorse a safe and bully-free school environment. I am more of your “girl next door;” enjoy meeting new people and making a difference. My title enables me to do these things and it warms my heart knowing I can help.
H2BAR: What advice do you give to redhead girls who have been teased or bullied?
MS: I advise them not to fuel the unconstructive energy created from bullies and to walk away. I used to dwell on all of the negativity and pick myself apart. I would ask, “What is wrong with me?” But now I ask, “How can I help this person?” I realized the bully is the one who needs help. Proving the haters wrong has motivated me to push forward, to change my overall outlook, and turn my life to a brighter direction.
H2BAR: Tell us about your redhead wine!
MS: I am originally from Ohio where I was introduced to the wine industry early on through my parent’s winery, Luva Bella Winery. At Cornell, I have started designing and promoting my own wine brand. My entrepreneurial spirit has grown and so has my eagerness to make a mark in the industry. I was fortunate to work at EJ Gallo Winery this past summer returning to Cornell University for my senior year. I want to continue to work on my plans for the anti-bullying scholarship, volunteering on the weekends and promote RedHead wine. RedHead is currently in eight stores in Ohio and may be available in Pennsylvania in 2015.
H2BAR: Congratulations! Now, let’s talk about your hair! What are your favorite products to use?
H2BAR: Who are your favorite redhead celebrities?
MS: Even though they are not natural redheads I really like Bella Thorn as a singer, model and she supports STOMP Out Bullying. I also like Nicole Kidman as an actress and a person who supports many charities including Starlight Children’s Foundation and Everyone Matters.
H2BAR: If there was 1 thing you’d like to share with the How to be a Redhead audience, what would it be?
MS: Like most redheads, I had a hard time embracing my hair. But, as I got older my hair gets me noticed and I have turned that into an attribute. It has allowed me to learn how to cope with standing out and be confident and proud of my features. It has guided me to become a stronger person and has driven me to work hard to succeed in many endeavors. I am currently trying to influence others to develop positive self-esteem, a good attitude and to love who they are. It is my goal to help girls do and feel the same!