Shree Saini has become the first Indian-American to win the Miss World America 2021 title. She is in fact the first Asian to win this title. Born in India, Shree’s family moved to Washington DC in the United States when she was all of five years of age.
The 25-year-old hails from Ludhiana, Punjab and was subject to a fair share of discrimination, both at school and at dance classes where she was enrolled from a young age.
But it was her mother who was her constant support and encouraged her to find her own space in this foreign land.
During a press conference, she spoke about how her parents helped her in her moments of adversity and how she was constantly told to choose resilience no matter what life throws at her.
Here are a few things you didn’t know about Shree’s journey so far:
- When she was 12 years of age she was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, which led to her heart beating only 20 times per minute (an average person’s heart beats 70 times per minute).
- She had to undergo open-heart surgery where a pacemaker was inserted to make sure that her heart functioned well.
- She was told that she would not be able to lead a normal life and was even asked to refrain from continuing her dance practise.
- However, this did not stop her interest in dance and she pursued her passion with renewed vigour.
- At 15, her mother fell ill and had to be put on life support. By this time, Shree had witnessed enough pain and decided on setting up an NGO to help people, like her, who were dealing with depression and other such ailments.
- Four years later, Shree met with a near fatal accident in which part of her face suffered partial burns and extensive bruising. While the doctors gave her one year of recovery time, she bounced back stronger in less than a month.
- Known to be a good orator, several of Shree’s speeches at college garnered applause from the audience.
- In 2017, she participated in Miss India-USA and won the title. In the preceding year, she also clinched the title of Miss World.
- Among her many accomplishments, her work has been recognised by UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Breast Cancer Foundation — Susan G Komen, and many others.
During an interview with ABC7, she said that it was her childhood dream to be Miss World and she wants to inspire others to rise above their challenges and achieve their dreams.
Whether it was being bullied or having to go through painful surgeries and an accident, Shree never gave up on her will to dream. She found ways to reinvent herself and move on at every stage. Her challenges never defined her life choices – it was her ambition that drove her to success.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)
Images courtesy: Instagram/ShreeSaini