Janae Sergio was in-and-out of homeless shelters and programs for at-risk youth during her high school years. She decided to join the Navy at 18, and eventually used the GI Bill to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management.
“I was kind of living day-to-day and trying to figure out where I would sleep at night,” Sergio said. “The Navy gave me that future and gave me that footing to establish myself as a successful businesswoman.”
Sergio had always wanted to be a model, and had always loved the fashion business. So, when the 36-year-old mother of two heard about a competition that donates money toward building homes for wounded warriors, she knew she wanted to take part.
“I know what it’s like to not have a home, so that’s really important to me.” she said.
Sergio, now an assistant business and financial manager for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, based in Hawaii, is vying for a spot on the cover of the international men’s magazine Maxim, a competition that comes with a $25,000 prize for the lucky winner, a bounty she would like to share with the Fisher House Foundation.
In addition to donating to the non-profit, which provides homes for military and veteran families while a loved one is receiving medical treatment, Sergio would also like to donate to a program for at-risk youth in Hawaii, similar to one in Los Angeles that once helped her.
Sergio models on the side and has picked up more than 41,000 followers at her Instagram account, @janae_perfectlyflawed, where she often promotes the products of veteran-owned businesses.
As part of the contest, a portion of voter proceedings goes to Homes for Wounded Warriors, a foundation that raises money to build and remodel handicap-accessible homes for disabled Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
Sergio also said one of her long-term goals is to start her own center that provides services for the homeless.