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College student will be first woman with autism to ever compete in Miss Florida pageant

TAMPA, Fla. — A student from University of South Florida is making history as the first woman with autism to compete in the Miss Florida pageant.

According to WTSP, Rachel Barcellona said growing up, doctors told her she’d be limited in what she could do and would never graduate from high school.

However, she has gone on to accomplish a great deal and became Miss Florida International 2016 and National American Miss Florida 2018.

“She’s got motivation. She’s got determination. Rachel stands on her own,” Keith Williams, chairman and executive director of the Miss Florida pageant, told the TV outlet.

Williams said he is unaware of any other woman with autism ever entering the pageant before.

WTSP reports in May, she received a commendation from the city of Tampa for her “endeavors to better the lives of those with disabilities.”

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