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PEOPLE’s Natural Beauty Contest winner Mallory Pennino doesn’t have to think twice about her favorite feature.
“My freckles,” she replies, instantly. “I’ve never been ashamed of them.”
While her two siblings had freckles as kids and quickly grew out of them, Pennino’s never left.
“They’re just really unique to me,” she says. “Mine have always been with me.”
And the nursing student, 20, prefers to keep her face makeup-free to let them really shine.
“I don’t really cover up my freckles, I just wear mascara to make my eyelashes look longer, but that’s about it,” Pennino says. “I just like to be more natural.”
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Her low-key routine compliments Pennino’s busy schedule. She balances her classes with regular nannying jobs and her new position working in a maternity ward.
Pennino, who will finish her nursing degree in August, graduated from high school a year early and chose to take on an accelerated nursing program. She knows she’s ahead of most people her age, but doesn’t mind.
“It’s super fast and I’m super young to be doing this, but I love it,” she says. “I knew what I wanted to do so I was like, why waste time?”
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Though her trademark freckles do tend to make people think she’s even younger than her twenty years.
“Sometimes people would say they make me look younger, which is criticism, but my mom says, ‘They’re unique, they make you who you are, so just embrace what you have, and what God gave you.’ ” Pennino says.
And she remembers the mantra her mom always told her growing up.
“I think of them as kisses from the sun.”