by Malcolm Curtis
Swisster.ch | August 2, 2008 | 06:02
Strolling down the runway as Miss Fêtes de Genève was the furthest thing from ‘Ginny’ Sacido’s mind when she arrived in Geneva a year ago. After winning the crown, the Missouri belle with a special name and a varied international background is now considering modelling full-time or as a way to finance medical studies.
Once you learn the gist of Geneva-Elaine Sacido’s life so far, you get the feeling she could succeed in just about any endeavor she sets her mind to.
Sacido, an American expat living in the city she was named after, has just added a beauty pageant title to the row of accomplishments in her crowded CV.
The willowy 26-year-old blonde is reigning as Miss Fêtes de Genève after being crowned following a contest last week.
The native of Missouri admits such a destiny was the furthest thing from her mind when she first arrived in Switzerland a year ago.
“I never really thought about making modelling part of my career,” she told Swisster in an interview before taking part in the opening ceremonies of the 11-day Geneva summer festival.
“It all happened so fast.” Sacido, whose long tresses accentuate her tall, slim profile, was encouraged to compete in the pageant by her Spanish husband, who works for an international bank.
“He was the one who gave me the confidence and entered me,” she said.
Based largely on a photo that caught the attention of judges, she ended up as a finalist in an event that saw her parading in a swimsuit, evening gown and casual attire.
Then, to her surprise, she won. “It seems a little mind out of body, I’m just going with it,” said Sacido, who suspects her name was a deciding factor.
Nothing in her past would suggest a stint on the fashion runway.
The Missouri belle was born and raised in St. Louis to a family of doctors.
Her mother is a medical practitioner and her relatives opened a health clinic and orphanage in Kenya, where Sacido has spent time volunteering.
Her parents came from immigrant families with European roots – she was named after her Dutch grandmother, whose own parents had an apparent fondness for the Swiss city.
Known by friends and family as “Ginny,” Sacido studied Spanish language and literature at Duke University in North Carolina, earning a bachelor’s degree in two and a half years, instead of the usual four years.
She admits to being a young woman in a hurry, always wanting to finish a project ahead of time.
During her time at Duke she joined the varsity track and field team as a pole vaulter, where she was ranked nationally as one of the top athletes in her class.
Her height of 181 centimeters helped – she also plays basketball.
She stays in shape in Geneva by running and lifting weights.
In addition to her various other accomplishments, Sacido has run a marathon race, earned her pilot’s license and published poetry.
After graduating from Duke she traveled to Madrid, where she studied photography and photojournalism.
Photography is one her hobbies and she hopes to put on an exhibition in Geneva.
It was in Spain that she met her husband, whose bank transferred him to Switzerland.
The couple now lives in Geneva’s Eaux-Vives neighborhood.
Although fluent in Spanish, Sacido found herself suddenly in a place where another Latin language is prevalent.
She enrolled in a French course at a Migros language school.
After just a few weeks there she learned enough to be able to take on the duties of Miss Fêtes de Genève.
“I can get my point across,” she said, noting that she still has much to learn.
She was able to nimbly survive an interview on Léman Bleu, the local television station, and now faces more than a week of public appearances, a prospect she said doesn’t faze her.
Along with the crown, Sacido won a trip for two to Tunisia, two free days at a wellness spa, and a package of other deals, including free treatment at a beauty parlor for a year.
But the title may open other career avenues.
Sacido had been working as intern at a local hospital as a health care aid, with a view to entering medical school.
Up until recently, she had resisted the idea of following in the footsteps of her mother and other family relatives. Now she is more or less set on becoming a doctor.
Modelling, she said, could help pay her way through medical school in the US, where tuition fees can be prohibitively high.
Or it could become an end in itself.
“I realize my life’s goal is to help others,” she said, stressing that she didn’t want to sound “corny.”
She said she would pursue “whatever helps me get to that goal.”
And who would belittle her chances?