Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was crowned Miss America 2014 on Sunday. She is the first Miss America winner of Indian heritage. The competition was broadcast live on ABC and viewers got to see Davuluri become the second consecutive contestant from New York to win the crown. Davuluri also was the first contestant to perform a Classical Bollywood Fusion dance in the competition
“It’s such an honor for myself, my family and my community as well. I just remember performing my talent and halfway through just crying,” she said to Good Morning America of her performance.
As with any other competition, there was some backlash for the newly crowned Miss America. Some people on social media posted racist comments aimed at Davuluri, but as the new face of an organization that “exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community,” Miss America 2014 responded accordingly, telling the Associated Press, “I have to rise above that…I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
Backlash aside, Davuluri, is more than just a beautiful Miss America. The 24-year-old Fayetteville, New York, native is a graduate of the University of Michigan and wants to become a doctor. She graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, as well as having earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society recognitions. She plans on using her prize of a $50,000 scholarship to apply to medical school. During her reign as Miss America she will be a spokesperson for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), all currently male-dominated fields.
More important than her skin color or cultural background was her platform. It was “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency.” She made sure to demonstrate in the competition that a person’s cultural background is a part, but not a full representation of him or her as an individual. Davuluri will travel approximately 20,000 miles each month during her year of service as Miss America 2014, according to a Miss America press release. During her travels, she will speak to audiences about her platform and act as the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Her reign will allow her to help raise funds for children’s hospitals and work with the Department of Education in Washington, DC.
At a press conference after the coronation, Davuluri had this to say of her win, “I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity. I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”
Davuluri’s first official act as Miss America 2014 was on Monday, when she visited Seaside Heights, N.J., to show support for the community that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and most recently a boardwalk fire.