1. How does it feel being the 1st Runner Up for the Miss Pakistan U.S.A Pageant?
Since the pageant each time someone calls me by this title, it is equally humbling as it is surprising and exciting. Sometimes I still have to correct myself as I stumble over my words in enthusiasm. But the surreal feeling never gets old! I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this pageant as it was my first time doing anything like this. When I first met the group of young women I was competing with they were all so unique and brought something different to the competition. To get this far, surrounded by powerful women, was incredibly empowering on its own. I do feel a greater sense of responsibility now, but this is exactly what drives me to keep going!
2. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was originally born in the majestic city of Lahore, Pakistan and migrated to the United States with my family when I was seven years old. I use my identity of being a product of both nations as a strength not just personally but professionally as well. I remember in the 5th grade my teacher, Mrs. Ryan gave every student a superlative. While some students got “most likely to become a singer,” “most likely to become rich,” etc. mine was “most likely to become the first female Pakistani American ambassador.” It’s interesting how life works out because 13 years later not much has changed. I wear my culture, traditions, religion, and values very proudly. I also picked a career path that is still very taboo in our culture. Currently, I am a mental health therapist and am also getting my Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University. My passions to give back to my community are directly aligned with the field of work I chose for myself.
3. How was your experience at the Miss Pakistan U.S.A 2017 Pageant?
It definitely isn’t easy to put yourself out there for the world to critique and how do you mentally prepare yourself for something you have no experience with? I had to rely on my intentions and really do some personal homework as to why I wanted to do this. My experience was pleasantly insightful. I learned a lot about myself. This pageant isn’t just a beauty show, it’s a revolutionary movement for Pakistan women all around the world. I felt the true power of women when we all sat down and began to converse. It was evident that many of us shared similar experiences, and collaboration instilled new confidence within us. I left the competition making many friends and mentors. I look forward to working with all of them in the near future.
4. What are your future plans?
I’ve always lived my life with an element of surprise and spontaneity. Many times I surprise my own self at my next move. I also set some very high and unreasonable goals for myself because it motivates me that much more to achieve them. Yet, my eyes and heart remain open to new experiences and opportunities. I am quite an existential person and have found that one of the biggest purpose and meaning of my life is to be in service of others. Alongside with completing my education, and jumping to the next position in my career, I know that in the future I will always strive to be a good humanitarian and philanthropist first.
5. What do you want to do within your Reign as the Miss Pakistan U.S.A 1st Runner-up.?
I want to maximize my opportunities to be able to reach as many minds and hearts as possible. It’s time that a female representative uses this leadership position as a means to bridge together the gap between two nations. As a woman who is representing the newer generation as well as the youth, there is a lot of responsibility on us to showcase what Pakistanis are truly like despite the negative image portrayed by the media. Pakistani Americans are intelligent, charitable, creative, and law-abiding citizens of this nation who deserve to be recognized on the basis of who they are rather than being judged based on the color of their skin or where they are from geographically.
6. What do you want to do for the Pakistani Women living in Pakistan and U.S.A?
Talk. It’s that simple. Sometimes it is very difficult to fight against outdated cultural norms that have no room in today’s world. It reaches a new level of difficult especially when you feel like you are the only one. I know this not because I am a Pakistani woman, but because I had personal experience doing exactly this when I first made the decision to take part in this pageant. I know Pakistani women to be among the strongest and most resilient people in the world and we need a platform to come together and share these experiences. Unfortunately, we are a culture who has a difficult time talking about societal problems with one another. With my background in mental health and social work, I plan to focus my next projects surrounding women empowerment. We must protect our women, and educate our men and vice versa.