Miss World America recently announced its 2020 contestants, with six Indian Americans and one Bangladeshi American among the 28 women vying for the title.
Among the more than two dozen contestants were Indian Americans Serene Singh of Colorado; Radhika Shah of Nevada; Manju Bangalore of Oregon; Manya Saaraswat of Pennsylvania; Shree Saini of Washington; and Sri Mangala Chava of West Virginia.
Bangladeshi American Afroza Nishi of Rhode Island was also included among the contestants.
Singh is a native Coloradan and a Rhodes Scholar, and is starting her doctorate degree in criminal justice at the University of Oxford, her bio notes.
A Truman Scholar and an alumnus of the University of Colorado, she graduated with summa cum laude honors in political science and journalism degrees with a minor in leadership studies, it said.
Singh, her bio notes, cares deeply about empowering girls and women worldwide. She is the founder of a The Serenity Project Brave Enough to Fly nonprofit, an organization that aims to give confidence tools to at-risk women. Her passion for paying forward her skills from pageantry and modeling have reached hundreds of women, has won Victoria Secret’s GRL PWR campaign, and serve as a Dalai Lama Fellow and Global Changemaker, her bio adds.
Singh plans to advance her passion for public service to one day serve on the United States Supreme Court.
Shah will be attending Stanford University this fall as a public policy major before pursuing medical school and becoming a physician, her bio said.
At the age of 16, she founded Real Autism Difference 501c3 to provide respite services for those with autism in the Southern Nevada community and beyond. In just two years, she raised over $100,000 for RAD’s programs including after school, weekend, and summer care services, according to her bio.
She was featured on the front cover of MyVegas Magazine as a Top 100 Women of Influence. In December of 2018, she was appointed by Governor Sandoval to serve as the youngest youth commissioner for the state.
Additionally, Shah has been involved in Clark County School District Special Education Forums and was even the first student to work with her school administration to develop a high school class that would allow students to work with those with disabilities during the school day and receive course credit, her bio says.
Bangalore is a physicist, actor and the founder of Operation Period, a youth-led nonprofit addressing menstrual inequity through art, advocacy, education, community engagement and aid.
She received her physics degree and math minor from the University of Oregon in 2018 and is now pursuing her M.S. in aerospace engineering with a concentration on propulsion systems, it said.
She has worked at two NASA centers, Marshall Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center, on propulsion and the cockpit displays for the Orion spacecraft, as well as in the White House under President Obama on science policy.
Saaraswat immigrated to the United States when she was three years old. She has since moved around seven times and has attended over 10 different schools, according to her bio.
Because she was moving around a lot, her family became her best friends – and remain so today. Both of her parents are physicians and from a young age, Saaraswat was encouraged to lead a service driven life. At 14, she began volunteering in the neonatal intensive care unit at a local hospital. It was here where she found her love for pediatrics and medicine, her bio said.
She entered Bucknell University on a presidential fellowship, which is the highest merit scholarship the university offers. Her academic endeavors led her to a stem cell internship at Harvard University, four publications in medical journals, and a life-changing trip to volunteer and intern at a local hospital in India, the bio notes.
Currently, she is pursuing a master of science of health policy and economics at Weill Cornell Medicine before she enters medical school.
Saini is a global speaker who has been invited to speak in over eight countries and 30 states, her bio touts.
She graduated from the University of Washington and has been a visiting student at Harvard, Stanford and Yale universities.
Saini has devoted her life to community service. At age 15, she started her nonprofit and since then, she has written thousands of articles and served hundreds of nonprofits, it said.
Her impact has reached millions: earning her the “Best Pageant Titleholder” award and recognitions from the Secretary of State, Senate, Governor and American Heart Association CEO.
Saini’s childhood dream to serve as Miss World inspired her to change her adversities to advocacy. She is a survivor of bullying, facial burns and heart defect.
At just age 12, she got a pacemaker surgery to keep her alive. Doctors said her physical activities would be forever limited but Shree persevered to regain her lost physical and emotional strength, the bio said.
Chava, a recent graduate of biology from University of California San Diego, aspires to be a physician one day.
She enjoys working with the elderly and has been involved with Alzheimer’s San Diego during her time in college and currently volunteers for Alzheimer’s Orange County.
Her two biggest life goals would be to open a retirement home for elderly abuse victims as well as a holistic clinic that incorporates mind, body, and spirit in treatment, the bio said.
Nishi is representing Rhode Island in 2020 at Miss World America. She is a first-generation Bangladeshi American who immigrated to the U.S. with her parents at the age of 3.
She is pursuing her undergraduate studies at Macaulay Honors College at Baruch in Accounting. She is also working as a college coach with a non-profit organization. She hopes to become a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
The contestants will participate in real-time preliminary competitions, receive camera time in front of a live audience and judges; they will also interact with viewers, and rehearse and collaborate with each other, according to the contest website.
Each contestant will be able to plug in to Miss World America events through her smart phone or laptop. Viewers will have access to series of online virtual events, during the month of October.
Preliminary competitions will include Beauty with a Purpose; Influencer Challenge; Talent Showcase; Head To Head Challenge; Entrepreneur Challenge; Top Model Challenge; and People’s Choice.
The new Miss World America and Miss Teen World America queens will be invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles for an official crowning ceremony, photo shoot, appearances, media interviews and other activities, all of which will be included in the Miss World America 2020 Final webcast, according to a news release.