Interview with Miss Jewel of India USA 2014.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Mansee Sangani, 21, from Norwood, Massachusetts, was crowned the winner of the Miss Jewel of India USA 2014 pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, earlier this month.
The pageant, sponsored by Jewel of India, was held at the Caesars Casino and Resort on March 2. In addition to Sangani, the pageant crowned Shruti Thakkar as Miss India International and Priyanca Modi as Miss Jewel of India.
Sangani was born in India but raised in New Zealand, a country she calls “beautiful.” She finished grade school at Norwood High School, and went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in management, and is working full-time at Foundation Medicine, Inc., a leading cancer care treatment center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In an interview with The American Bazaar. Sangani talks about how she became involved in beauty pageants, what the process of winning the Miss Jewel of India USA crown was like, and what she thinks of pageantry and modeling as an industry and possible career.
Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us a little about yourself – where were you born and raised, where did you and now go to school; what are your hobbies and interests?
I was born in India and raised in the beautiful country of New Zealand. I completed my senior year of high school in Boston at Norwood High and went on to pursue my Bachelors in Biology at University of Massachusetts Boston.
Currently, I am working full time at Foundation Medicine Inc. and also pursuing my graduate school in the field of management.
When did pageantry become an interest of yours? What made you want to enter into the Miss Jewel of India USA 2014 pageant?
I was never really too keen about the fashion industry. My priorities have always been work and school. In 2010 I was given a chance to be part of a local fashion show in New England after which my interest in the fashion industry just evolved. My first attempt was the Miss India New England pageant in 2012 where I competed and came out a winner. After this I was approached by the Jewel of India director and asked to compete again as I would be a good candidate. My parents were really supportive of me and wanted to see me succeed so I decided to take part once more.
What was the pageant process like, in terms of selection and then actually going through the entire competition and winning it?
The entire process was exciting and at the same time nerve wrecking. The selection process is really quite simple: you fill out the application, send in two pictures of yourself and demonstrate what talent you would perform. The pageant was held on Sunday, March 2nd and all the contestants were required to meet Saturday morning for training and grooming sessions. The day of the pageant is when you really feel anxious because you don’t know how your performance will be and what the judges would be like. However, once the pageant starts there is no room for a break; you are required to finish one round and change and be ready for the next.
Now that you are Miss Jewel of India USA 2014, is there a next stage like Miss India World? What comes after winning the crown in Atlantic City?
Yes, this title gives me an opportunity to represent United States and compete at the international level. The international pageant is going to take place in January, 2015. It starts off in Mumbai where the training, grooming and press release takes place. The contestants then fly to Thailand for photo shoots, group activities and off course the grand finale. In all, this pageant takes places over the course of 20 days.
Apart from pageantry, what are your personal and professional goals for the future? Is pageantry and modeling something you want to pursue professionally, or is this just something you would do on the side?
My top priorities are my work and my education. Although pageantry and modeling weren’t in my to do list I feel like I have always found my way around to being a part of such events. It did start of as something I was doing on side as a hobby. However, lately I feel that I have been more and more involved. I feel that over the years I have become more passionate towards it and it’s also something that I enjoy doing and also take pride in.
Although beauty pageants certainly have their admirers – especially the bigger ones, who command millions of viewers on television every year – there are those who deride pageants because, among other things, they objectify women. What are your thoughts on beauty pageants in this regard?
Women possess strong intuition, courage and high levels of endurance. Therefore, I think beauty pageants give us young women a platform to foray into the fields that we want; be it arts, be it entertainment, be it education. It gives us an opportunity and a platform to not only make a difference in someone else’s life but also to reach out to other women who are in need.
Now that the reigning Miss America is Indian American, do you think we’ll see more desi girls competing in beauty pageants across the nation? Do you think this is good or bad?
Yes, I believe that more and more desi girls now want to part-take in pageants and having a reigning Indian American Miss America is a big motivational factor for girls all around the world, not just in the United States. Not only do beauty pageants provide a platform, they also test your level of confidence, your ability to speak in a large audience, how poised you are, how humble and kind you are. All of these qualities are equally essential for all women.
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