At least five Indian-American and/or South Asian-American women are going to be competing for the crown at the upcoming Miss World America pageant 2019, being held Oct. 12, in The Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas. Each of them represents a different state.
Marjana Chowdhury, 26, of Alaska, Manju Bangalore, 22, of California, Lekha Ravi, 26, of Florida, Jasmeet Ghoman, 26, of Iowa, Amulya Chava, 17, of Kansas, and Shree Saini, 23, of Washington State, are among the contestants so far.
According to the Miss World America website, 11 slots remain to be filled before the Oct. 12 event,
Chowdhury works at BlackRock, a global investment management company. Her Facebook account reveals Chowdhury works on issues of suicide prevention, and is a member of the Student Leadership Network, a volunteer committee of young professionals who strive for equal access to education for all students. Marjana received her B.A. from Columbia University, and graduated valedictorian of her high school class. On weekends, she taught computer science to incarcerated youth and, together, built a Twitter Bot! Today, you can either find her running in Central Park or empowering youth in under served communities to realize their higher education and career potential, says the pageant website.
Bangalore, a physicist who graduated from University of Oregon, has been working with @OpertionPeriod, a non-profit which she says on Facebook, “has been my baby” since its founding. “I cannot leave its side. My heart belongs to solving this issue of menstrual inequity, and it always will,” she says. Operation Period, a youth-led, menstrual health non-profit that provides advocacy, education and services in the U.S. and India.
Bangalore has worked at two NASA centers on spacecraft propulsion and display design, as well as in the White House on science policy under President Obama. She aspires to become an astronaut, hoping to bring the Miss World title to space. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano and dancing, according to the pageant website.
On Sept. 29, when her name was among those in the pageant, she proclaimed, “In it to win it.” The winner of the Miss World California pageant in July this year, Bangalore ran a Go Fund Me campaign to go for the Las Vegas event on Oct. 12.
Ravi from Florida is interested in financial literacy as her “Beauty with a Purpose” project – a way to “empower others who don’t have the resources or guidance available to them, like my family and I didn’t have growing up.”
“However, my parents always supported my education and my goals to work in finance, so now that I am financially literate, I feel confident in my ability to give back to others who were in my shoes,” Ravi says on Facebook. She recently launched a blog, “The Financial Boss”, that focuses on helping young professionals be savvy with their money.
According to the pageant website, Ravi works full-time in private banking and has a degree in Business and Economics from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is currently pursuing her Diploma in Financial Planning at NYU.
Ghoman is a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. She currently works for her family business by managing properties. She will be doing her MBA in Spring 2020. She says on her profile that she is “passionate about bettering my community,” and has several leadership positions in non-profit organizations from working with the American Cancer Society to holding her own fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
Seventeen year old Chava from Kansas founded and was president of Portola High School’s Wounded Warrior Project, according to her Facebook account. Still a student, Chava is an aspiring civil rights attorney, and is working with the Constitutional Rights Foundation “to gain a deeper understanding of our justice system” and plans on attending law school, according to her profile on the pageant website. “I have always been passionate about giving back to our American veterans which has led me to becoming the founding president of my local Wounded Warrior Project chapter.”
And Shree Saini from Washington State, who was interviewed last year when she won the Miss India Worldwide pageant in New Jersey, says on Facebook Sept. 29, “Thanks to God, mentors and judges, I made “Top 5 Talent” for “Miss World America” among my fellow sisters.”
Saini was also Miss India USA in 2017.
“It is my honor and privilege to be among these incredible women, who are brilliant, insanely talented and great community servants in their states,” Saini went on to say. A motivational speaker, and an activist on issues of bullying, sex trafficking, and inequality, Saini has nursed a heart condition since she was 12, and requires a pacemaker which has to be changed periodically,
In an interview with News India Times after she won the Miss India Worldwide contest Saini said the question that plagued her from childhood was “why are so many people so poor?”
“And I still have that question plaguing me. I want to make a radical difference, and my dream is to be able to do that through this pageant and my experiences,” Saini said.
As Miss World Washington, Saini is also part of the Beauty With A Purpose project (#BeautywithaPurpose) which she says is the “very best part” of competing for Miss World America.
“As your servant leader and a heart patient, I have been working with heart health through American Heart Association and I have also been speaking about the value of Emotional Wellbeing all around the world,” Saini noted on Facebook. She was also recently chosen as the “National Ambassador” for “Victoria’s Voice” a non-profit founded by parents of Victoria Siegel, who died of a drug overdose in 2015.
According to Saini’s profile on the pageant website, she has given 100s of presentations in over 80 cities and 6 countries, written 400 some articles in newspapers on emotional fitness, and has helped fundraise over $800,000 via her nonprofit shreesaini.org.