A life-long dream to do pageants, winning the Miss India USA 2017 has propelled Shree Saini from the state of Washington to champion her love for making an impact on people‘s lives in a positive way.
“Everyone is treated equally. The titles don’t matter as to who you are as a person,” said Saini in a phone interview. “You are generous, you are kind, and that you are loving. These are my core values and I stick with that. And that fuels me.”
Saini’s journey to the pageant world began as a young child when she would verbalize to everyone that she wanted to become the next Miss Universe. She looked up at these women because, not only are they highly educated, but that they can have a career to look forward to afterwards.
In 2014, she entered her first beauty pageant at her hometown where she placed first runner-up.
“It’s hard to prepare for every aspect of the pageant and to be so close and still not get it. But I just kept thinking about the day that I would be crowned and how I could use my title to impact others. That really motivated me and it has been a lifelong dream to do pageants,” said Saini.
And on Dec. 17, 2017, Saini won the coveted title of Miss India USA – a defining moment for the recently turned 22-year-old.
10 years ago, she received a pacemaker, a small device placed in her chest, to help control her abnormal heart rhythms. According to her doctor, she only had 20 heartbeats per minute. The average heartbeat for children 10 years and older is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
But having the pacemaker installed also meant that all contact sports must stop, including for her love for dancing.
She told her mom at that time, “I need a pacemaker, not only in order to live, but that I do envision myself dancing. I envision myself acting and I do want to continue pageantry when I grow up. And you need dance for the talent portion,” said Saini.
Post-surgery, there is a visible scar on her chest. She at used to come home from school, crying to her mother because she was being bullied.
Her mother’s response has always been, “it’s your response that makes you great. Your attitude towards them, you need to be more mature and compassionate towards your bullies because you don’t know what they are going through in life. Maybe they come from broken families. My response to life’s situation is that this has defined who I am.”
In March, the inaugural Global Beauty Awards will be held in Bellevue, WA. The GBAs has just announced that Saini is nominated for her academic achievement.
Recently, Saini completed an intensive acting program at Yale University. She also studied political science at Harvard, and was a former student at Stanford University. Today, she is studying journalism and real estate at the University of Washington.
As the reigning title holder, Saini’s personal goal this year is to do 100 appearances where she passionately talks about two issues: anti-human trafficking and well-being as she continues to pursue her studies at the University of Washington.
Looking back at her own challenging times, she said that a few words of wisdom can make a difference in one’s life.
“Sometimes people who are going through a tough time think that there is something wrong with them and that they deserve this,” said Saini. But instead, she said that it’s not your fault when this is happening to you.
In the near future, she will have her own YouTube channel to capture memories about her journey as the reigning Miss India USA 2017 and for providing advice for anyone wanting to pursue degrees in journalism and/or in real estate.
“I just want to impact all age groups so I will just talk about my journey to self-esteem,” said Saini.
Despite her heavy schedule, she wants everyone to know that she’s reachable whether it’s via her website – SainiSaini.org – or her social media channels.
As an advocate in all aspects of well-being, Saini makes sure that she prioritizes rest and sleep during her hectic schedules.
“I do remind myself consistently that I need to be an example first both emotionally and physically healthy in order to be a voice for those subjects. But as long as you are passionate about it, it doesn’t seem like work,” she said.
Last month, Saini was invited to be a judge at the Miss India Malaysia. She will also be representing the US at the upcoming Miss India Worldwide 2018 later this year.
Asked about the pressure of winning the prestigious title, a possible third straight win for the US,
“I do feel pressure to give more than 100% like a 1000 percent to really prove to the audience that I am earning of the title. But whatever the outcome may be, I’m still Miss India USA. I’m still Shree. I still want to be doing service regardless of the crown or not,” Saini said.