Aspiring professional opera singer Marisa Buchheit of Chicago was crowned the new Miss Illinois over the weekend.
The 24-year-old Wicker Park resident who won Saturday’s competition will go on to represent the state in the Miss America pageant in September.
Buchheit is the reigning Miss Chicago, a title she also held in 2012.
Buchheit is a trained opera singer whose career ambition is to become a professional opera singer, she said in an interview with the Tribune. Pageants were always a dream of hers, but she didn't start competing until her late teens, she said.
“It's really a process, and you grow a lot,” Buchheit said. “For me, I was naturally very shy and it was really a progression up to this point. I feel like this year, I was truly ready for it and ready to embrace everything.”
Buchheit grew up on the Northwest Side, in Edison Park, and attended Ebinger Elementary, Baubien Elementary and Northside College Preparatory High School. She received her bachelor's degree from Cleveland Institute of Music in Ohio.
Buchheit now works as an art and choir teacher at Josephinum Academy in Wicker Park.
Buchheit sings in seven languages — Italian, German, French, Czech, Chinese, Thai and English — and is an active solo concert artist.
In addition to preparing for the Miss America pageant, Buchheit said she will use her position to make appearances at schools throughout the state and to promote the STEM to STEAM campaign to expand the science, technology, engineering and math framework for education to include arts as well.
“That's something that I'll be trying to spread awareness for,” Buchheit said.