Indian American Shree Saini was crowned the new Miss India Worldwide, the oldest and largest beauty pageant in the Indian diaspora.
Saini, who came from Punjab, bested other women of Indian descent from 17 countries in the competition held in Fords, New Jersey on Friday.Sakshi Sinha from Australia and Anusha Sareen from the United Kingdom won first and second runner-up, respectively.
Saini, who enjoyed dancing since childhood, received the news that she can never dance again after receiving a pacemaker implant to support a heart condition.
Yet she never gave up on her dream, persevering despite the physical challenge and bullying from peers to land a spot at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet Company. “I truly believe your legacy is defined by how you make others feel and the positive difference you make in your lifetime,” Saini said, according to The Pioneer.
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Saini, who was crowned Miss India USA last year, started her own non-profit organization at the age of 15.
She also volunteered for an anti-human trafficking project in Nepal, took acting courses at Yale and several more at Harvard and Stanford.
The 22-year-old is currently pursuing a double degree in public administration and business from the University of Washington, according to The Tribune. Apart from her dancing and dedication to ending human trafficking, Saina enjoyed competing in pageants, participating in more than 50 events — across 10 states and four countries — in the first six months after winning Miss USA Washington, Thrive Global noted in July. In a Facebook post, Saini said it feels “surreal” winning the crown but expressed her readiness to engage in more charitable causes.
“When they announced USA, I was immensely thankful to everyone who had supported me and I was also in tears because the journey to this world title wasn’t easy.
“In my talent, I shared about my life struggles, those helped me build resilience and endless love for life. The message of my dance was to rise up against any adversity with resilience and kindness.”
“My dance talked about being bullied for many years, almost losing my mother to illness, suffering from third degree burns on my entire face and living with a heart defeat,”
“My humble message as your newly crowned Miss India Worldwide Shree Saini is that: ‘Your life’s legacy is defined how you make people feel, with each vibe/interaction/conversation and the positive difference you make in other’s lives in your lifetime. Let us all have a solution mindset, we should always try to defuse the negativity in any situation and focus on the light within all of us.’”