Monday, October 26
       

Interview With MISS ASIA WORLD 2019 Titleholders

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An Asia World Media Exclusive

 

Recently after the Competition, Asia World Media sat down with the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition 2019 titleholders for an exclusive and ask a few questions to the newly titleholders of the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019 – Savannah Pham, Saisha Karri, Kathy Zhang and Lucy Le.

Miss Asia World 2019 – Miss Savannah Pham is a first-generation college student who graduated from Stanford University with honors. She double majored in Psychology and Asian American Studies. Savannah’s research broadly focuses on understanding sociocultural determinants (e.g., intergenerational trauma, discrimination) of ethnic health disparities in order to better inform interventions and treatments. Much of her advocacy work has revolved around how to make mental health knowledge and treatment more accessible to underserved communities, as well as how to combat stigma around mental health. She has also been committed to advocacy work to increase suicide prevention awareness in the Asian American community. Through this work, Pham has been invited to give talks at places like FBI Los Angeles headquarters and the Asian America Foundation, which have been integral experiences. Overall, Savannah Pham’s main goal in life is to ultimately be able to help members in her Asian American community by helping provide more culturally competent mental health services.

AWM:  Why was it’s important to you to compete in the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition 2019?

Savannah:  I actually grew up in Southern California and went to college in Northern California. I only moved to Texas last year for my PhD. It was important for me to compete in the Miss Asia World Competition because I really wanted the opportunity to connect with the Asian American community here in Texas. Having spent four years in Northern California, I had the opportunity to be immersed in a vibrant Asian American community. Competing in Miss Asia World helped connect me with the Asian American community here in Texas and helped me feel more at home. Moreover, I have been able to build a network so that I can volunteer and serve the Asian American community.

AWM:  What would you like to accomplish by being a titleholder for the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019?

Savannah:  My goal is to continue spreading awareness for mental health and suicide prevention in the Asian American community. This is my life’s work so being Miss Asia World allows me a platform to continue engaging with more community members and spreading awareness.

Additionally, my goals are to breakdown stereotypes and continue to empower women. There is a harmful stereotype that women who compete in pageants cannot also be intelligent, hardworking, and empowered. Through pageants, I have met so many incredible women who are also academics, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and so on. As a Stanford graduate and PhD student, I want to also be a role model for young women and girls and serve as a reminder that women can be beautiful, brilliant, passionate, inspired, and so much more—we are limitless.

AWM:  How would you like the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to help in your goal(s) during your titleholder’s term and beyond?

Savannah:  The Miss Asia World organization can help achieve my goals during my term and beyond by helping me form connections and network with community organizations and community members. With the support of the organization, I can successfully work with the community to raise awareness for mental health.

AWM:  What outcome(s) would you like to see after your titleholder’s term?

Savannah:  After my term, I would like to be able to look back and see that I’ve truly been engaged in the Asian American community. I would like to be able to see that I have used my platform for the best and truly spread awareness for the work that I am so passionate about. I would like to also be able to have connected with community members and helped empower women.

AWM:  What is your overall experience(s) at the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019 Competition?

Savannah:  The Miss Asia World 2019 Competition was an incredible experience. I was hesitant about competing at first, given that there are so many competing demands of my PhD program. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to fully commit. However, after attending my first Asia World Academy and being able to connect with the other girls and get to know the board members, I knew that this was an organization I wanted to be a part of. I love how much the board members focus on training all of us so holistically (nutrition, public speaking, walking, etc). Everyone was so supportive and I was so inspired by all of the other girls. I would have to say one of the best parts of the experience was being able to perform my original spoken word piece during the talent portion. One of my mentors challenged me to share a talent that was really true to me and something I had never shared before. It was such a special and unique experience being able to share that and have folks come up to me and say that they really identified with my story as well.

AWM:  Would you be interest in joining the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to further its’ mission and vision after your titleholder’s term?

Savannah:  I would love to be a part of the Miss Asia World organization even after my term. I’m committed to empowering others and sharing whatever knowledge I have with the next generation. The Miss Asia World organization embodies so many of the tenets that I believe in very strongly, so I hope to continue sharing my experiences and mentoring others as they begin changing the world.

Miss Teen Asia World 2019 – Saisha Karri is 16 years old and a junior in high school. Although she is only 16, Saisha always wanted to pursue a business major and be an entrepreneur. Last year, Miss Karri created Prema Beauty, an Indian-American cosmetic company, with her best friend. In school, Saisha participate in DECA, which has fueled her ambition to pursue a career in the field of Entrepreneurship. Growing up, she watched various Bollywood dancers take on the stage which inspired her to take classical Indian dance classes. Outside of dance and school, Saisha spend her weekends debating current events, helping out community, and spending time with her family and friends.

AWM:  Why was it’s important for you to compete in the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition 2019?

Saisha:  Never in a million years would I have imagined myself as a title holder representing my culture, and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. It was important for me to compete in the Miss Teen Asia World Competition to step out of my comfort zone. It also has given me a platform to advocate for causes that I firmly believe in while empowering other teens do to the same. The competition has taught me how to be a strong individual and has brought me closer to my culture.

AWM:  What would you like to accomplish by being a titleholder for the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019?

Saisha:  I have many goals that I’d like to accomplish during my term as Miss Teen Asia World. Firstly, I want to be a leader or inspiration for young women and girls, and leave the message that they can genuinely accomplish anything that they set their minds to with hard work. An overall change I’ve always wanted to see lies within the education system, I have been so fortunate to be able to attend school regularly but that isn’t the case for so many women and children. I hope to create opportunities for these young girls to escape this cycle of poverty that they may be stuck in.

AWM:  How would you like the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to help in your goal(s) during your titleholder’s term and beyond?

Saisha:  I would like the organization to continue to give me a platform that supports my female entrepreneurship and message on education in third world counties. I’m thankful that they have been supportive of all my goals and aspirations and wish that they will continue to help me further with my goals. I think that they could help me partner with non-governmental or non-profit organizations to push for this global change. They have inspired me to chase after my dreams by helping me network with brilliant individuals and organizations.

AWM:  What outcome(s) would you like to see after your titleholder’s term?

Saisha:  When my term ends I will be 18 years old, and I hope that I will commit to a college that will strengthen my love for business. I also want to be able to visibly see the lives that I have touched and my impact on society as Miss Teen Asia World. Aside from my global aspirations and activism, I hope that my company has grown and that Miss Asia has provided me with countless experiences and memories of a loving family and team.

AWM:  What is your overall experience(s) at the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019 Competition?

Saisha:  This completion was my first experience with a unique competition, as I am a newcomer in this huge industry. My experience overall was amazing and unforgettable. The competition was extremely organized and well planned. I thoroughly enjoyed their coaches and mentors. Before I started, I didn’t even know how to walk properly in heels but after their training classes, I was able to walk on the stage confidently. The organization provided the contestants with classes on how to walk, talk and shaped us into stronger women. There were barely any issues with my experience; the only aspect I wish I could’ve changed was actually being in the nation. This past summer, during the training I visited my family in India, which did hinder my performance. But they were amazing with staying in contact with me, and giving me the attention and support I needed even across the ocean.

AWM:  Would you be interest in joining the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to further its’ mission and vision after your titleholder’s term?

Saisha:  Yes, I would love to join the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization. I believe in their mission to nurture women and to help them embrace their culture while empowering the generation to be their best. I feel that I could contribute to further improve the already great organization by providing an insider’s view.

Miss Asia World Princess 2019 – Kathy Zhang is a 24 year old Chinese American and currently working as a Technical Consultant at Microsoft with a focus on Azure Identity and Security. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a double degree in Information Systems and Accounting with a minor in Public Policy. Miss Zhang is very passionate about advocating for the Asian American community. On her spare time, Kathy is also an IRS-Certified VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteer, preparing tax forms for low income households in her community. She led a month-long “Celebrating Asian American Women” initiative at the university Community Advocacy office. Kathy Zhang also makes time for Microsoft DigiGirlz, to encourage young girls to explore STEM careers. “I hope that one day I can become the CTO of a large tech company. I also hope to create my own nonprofit supporting other women creating their own tech start-ups,” said Kathy Zhang.

AWM:  Why was it’s important to you to compete in the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition 2019?

Kathy:  I’m so thankful for the Miss Asia World Competition for creating this community to uplift other Asian American women. I’m excited to come together to celebrate each country and their traditions. After college, I moved to Dallas by myself to start my career in technology which felt like an uphill battle. However, though this competition I met so many amazing and accomplished women, both competing with me and as trainers, who have brought so much enthusiasm and motivation in my life to do more and better.

I was able to gain way more through the competition than I thought I would. Asia World Academy all day trainings were well thought out and I will be able to take a lot of lessons learned on with me through work and life. One of my favorite trainings we had were the two were Dr. Good spoke to us about women in leadership. We were reminded of implicit biases in the workforce and to be aware of them and not be afraid to speak out for ourselves. Through encouragement and training, I stepped out of my comfort zone to compete, which is something I never thought I would have the confidence to do.

Furthermore, as a first generation Asian American, I have been more appreciative of my parent’s courageous move to start all over in an unknown land and unknown language to provide for a better life and opportunities for my sister, my brother, and I. I have been able to be proud of my Chinese American identity and all the rich history I carry on with me. From better understanding myself, I am able to become more empathetic and more thoughtful when I volunteer and protest with causes I care about, such as using my Mandarin skills when I volunteered with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. I have their support and strength as I moved to Dallas from Maryland to pursue my dream career.

AWM: What would you like to accomplish by being a titleholder for the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019?

Kathy:  I hope to be a role model for other Asian American women in business and technology and to show that we do have a space and voice in this industry. As a current Technical Consultant at Microsoft, I am able to leverage my position and knowledge to help others and I hope to be able to promote and advocate for Asian American women in business and technology. Throughout school and now in the workforce, I work with mostly men who can be intimidating, but I hope to show that women are just as capable and have just as much to bring to the table as other men. I hope to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

As I learn more about incredible Asian American role models and leaders such as 4 x Olympian Julie Chu representing team US in the US Women’s Ice Hockey Olympics, I become more empowered that I can also dream big and reach my goals. Although I have learned so much and every day barriers are being broken, there is still a long way to go. At work, oftentimes I am the youngest, the only women, and the only women of color in a room. This can be intimidating, but I am excited to prove others wrong about my preconceived abilities. A 2013 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that men are 2x as likely to be hired for a job in mathematics when the only difference between candidate profiles is gender. According to the Ascend Leadership study, White men and women are 2x more likely than Asians to become executives and White men and women hold 3x the number of executive positions in comparison to Asians. At Microsoft, in 2018, only 26.5% of hires were women. Unfortunately, these statistics show systematic discrimination and I hope to help with that progress and help others break through stereotypes that we oftentimes feel confined to. Although tech is a male dominated field, at Microsoft, I have an opportunity to show that Asian American women do have a place in business and technology. Through my involvement of Microsoft Digigirlz, an organization empowering young girls to code, I hope to show that there is a place for them in the tech industry.

AWM:  How would you like the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to help in your goal(s) during your titleholder’s term and beyond?

Kathy:  There is great talent and connections through the Miss Asia World Academy organization. I would love to write a program/hands-on activity that can be taught in schools to pique girls’ curiosity towards learning more about STEM careers and get feedback from the Miss Asia World board. I hope that when girls’ can have more exposure to these fields, they would dare to dream to be in these fields empowering them to choose to learn more about things that they may have thought were not for them. Especially with the growing pace of technology, I hope to show that even people in the field for a long time may be a disadvantage as they are stuck in their ways. In order to disrupt the industry, we need fresh ideas and new talent learning the new technology that the older people may not have had exposure to, and what better than bringing the experience of the minority of the industry- women of color.

I hope this program can become a standard and be used in schools. I hope to start off with young girls in middle school and continue and tailor it towards girls in high school and college. If successful, I would love to write an app and publish it to the app store to standardize the program and be able to impact more women in technology.

AWM:  What outcome(s) would you like to see after your titleholder’s term?

Kathy:  I would like to be able to teach the program I put together and see other girls’ have more confidence in themselves. I hope to have girls support other girls to further their involvement in STEM and in the industry. Furthermore, I would like to have further awareness around Asian American representation in STEM fields and in the media illuminating their successes.

This organization has motivated and inspired me to follow my passions, break barriers, and to give my best effort in all I do. I have been able to be proud of my Chinese American identity and all the rich history I carry on with me. I hope to bring this same energy to the events and people I am able to meet through my term as a titleholder.

AWM:  What is your overall experience(s) at the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019 Competition?

Kathy:  I had an incredible experience in the Miss Asia World 2019 Competition. All of the Miss Asia World Academy trainings were very well thought out to create value not only in the competition, but through other aspects of my life. I have gained confidence in myself by putting myself out there with the support of the whole Miss Asia World board members, I wouldn’t have otherwise.

The Miss Asia World Academy training and competition was about leadership and fostering a friendly environment to learn and grow. I was able to meet other very impressive contestants from different cultures and learn about how rich and beautiful Asian history is, and the diverse backgrounds we come from. I have been able to learn a lot of necessary life skills and form meaningful friendships. The skills I’ve gained will be lifelong lessons.

AWM:  Would you be interest in joining the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to further its’ mission and vision after your titleholder’s term?

Kathy:  I am interested in joining the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to further its mission. I am so thankful for the opportunity and all it has given me, I hope to give back and hope to help expand the organization to help other women. I would love to work towards having more women representation in STEM careers which directly aligns with the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition mission. I am passionate about mentorship and bringing other women up. I currently lead a mentoring group at Microsoft for new hires where there’s very few women working in consulting and engineering. I hope through these involvements, I am able to bring value and increase the impact. If given the opportunity to be involved with this organization, I hope to give back and support other Asian Americans in technology and business, especially in relating to our shared experiences as Asian Americans.

Miss Teen Asia World Princess 2019 – Lucy Le is a 16 years old high school student in Arlington, Texas. She enjoys being involved in a variety of activities including volunteering, staying healthy being with family and friends. She is active in her High School’s Health Occupation Students of America, National Honor Society, and Key Club. Coming from a traditional Vietnamese household, Lucy have learned to not only apply but to honor her culture through practicing traditional customs such as speaking fluent Vietnamese. Lucy also founded the Lucy and Amy Foundation where she collect donations and send them to wherever she feel is needed. Lucy has a passion towards music, singing, and performing. Ever since she was young, she has been performing at local events here and there within the Vietnamese community. She value education and always put her best foot forward when it comes to academics. Lucy Le hopes to pursue some type of science degree in the future and to one day become a pediatrician or a neonatologist.

AWM:  Why was it’s important to you to compete in the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition 2019?

Lucy:  It was important to me to compete in the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition because I feel that stepping out of my comfort zone will shape me as a person. To say that you’ve competed in a pageant is something I believe anyone should be proud of. I now feel like I’m able to do so many more things that I previously hesitated on doing because I had to learn to be confident in myself. I also think it’s very important to honor our roots, so when I heard that this pageant is “crowning cultural champions” I leaped for this opportunity to express my love and honor for the Vietnamese culture.

AWM:  What would you like to accomplish by being a titleholder for the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019?

Lucy:  As a titleholder, I would like to not only spread awareness on the issue of lack of educational opportunities all over the world, but to help provide equal opportunities for all children to be able to go to school and have good health. Although there are many factors that contribute to this issue, things like child labor or trafficking are some of the things that I would like to spread awareness on. This issue is so important to me because I truly believe education is the key to success. I connect health into this as well because I also believe that you can’t sustain yourself and go to school without good health. I am so grateful that I’m able to go to school every day and that I’m capable of accessing all the health resources I need. I believe kids and their success is really a big part of the future of our world, so I want other kids to be able to have a chance like I do, to make something out of their lives and to become the person they want to be with the right resources and opportunities.

AWM:  How would you like the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to help in your goal(s) during your titleholder’s term and beyond?

Lucy:  I would like for the organization to help me by providing opportunities and chances for me to spread my message and raise awareness on the issue I stand for. For the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to support my message and passion is all I could ask for!

AWM:  What outcome(s) would you like to see after your titleholder’s term?

Lucy:  Personally, I would like to see a better leader in me. I would like to see that I’ve become an improved leader and that I’ve acquired good habits of using my voice to speak out on things that I feel are relevant to the betterment of society. Although my term does come to an end, I won’t stop spreading my message and I would like for people to join me and continue helping me make an impact towards this issue, even if it’s a small one.

AWM:  What is your overall experience(s) at the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World 2019 Competition?

Lucy:  Overall, the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition was a huge learning experience for me. Since I’ve never competed in a pageant before, I definitely had moments where I felt as if I wasn’t doing something right. But I had to learn to embrace myself no matter what and to always be confident with who I am. I appreciate the organization for having academy trainings as well as rehearsals so that I can feel better prepared. Behind the scenes, for me personally, was a bit frantic because I needed to always be ready since I was the first contestant for the each section of the pageant. But that helped me realize that nothing in life will always go in my favor and that I need to learn how to adapt to the circumstances I’m currently in. In conclusion, I am very grateful for the opportunity to compete and do something I would’ve never thought I’d ever experience.

AWM:  Would you be interest in joining the Miss Teen and Miss Asia World organization to further its’ mission and vision after your titleholder’s term?

Lucy:  My interest in joining the organization after my term is tentative.

 

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