Ahmedabad Girl Qualifies For Ms. India USA Finals
“Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.”
The quote hit me hard and stayed with me while I watched Zeel Patel’s extraordinary story unfold. Today, she stands as a Ms. India USA finalist and there cannot be enough words by any Indian to express what it makes all of us feel back here. How could we not write about this girl who is here to stay and make a difference!
I look at her images and I am stumped! Unlike what you might probably assume a finalist of such a big pageant to be, this girl is rooted while she spreads her wide wings in the sky for a beautiful flight.
“Tell me something about you?”
This December I will be graduating with my Bachelors in Science from the University of Florida. I want to become a physician and help the community. I want to open up a clinic and treat those in need and give back to the community that helped me reach my goal-to become a doctor.
I am speechless! Whoever thought models aren’t into education, seriously, give this a read! Time and again Indian origin models have proved that they have focused on their education as much as their modeling. This girl reinforces that and how! The spark in her eyes and the gratitude she expresses for the support from her community is infectious.
“Were you born in India?”
I ask intrigued.
“No. I was born in Boston, MA (USA) but grew up in India until I was five. I fell in love with the different festivals, rituals, food, clothing, people and the heritage of the Indian Culture. Even after returning to America, my parents always kept me grounded to our Indian culture so I grew up in the American Indian Culture. It’s like I have received and picked up the best from both the worlds. I have kept my cultural values intact in a foreign land that is now my home.”
“Considering you are into medicine; how did beauty pageants come into the picture? Was it by choice or just an experiment?” I ask.
She laughs out. “It was by choice! I started participating in pageants in high school. I started from the local level. From winning from my school, town, county, university, state, over the years I’ve been able to gradually make my way up to be selected as a finalist to compete in Miss. India USA.”
She shares it all very humbly, but I can imagine how demanding it must have been for her.
The next obvious question is the way the family reacted to it. We have observed quite often how our certain dreams are cut short when there is no one to stand by us.
“How did your parents and family react to your decision to take your modeling stint further and pursue it?”
My parents and the rest of my family have always been extremely supportive. And I honestly don’t think I would have made it this far exploring these opportunities without all their support.
The massive support her family has extended to her can be seen in an impressive list of titles and crowns she has bagged in several pageants. Earlier this year she was crowned Miss. University of Florida Visa 2015, and was also crowned Miss. Congeniality at the Miss. India Florida pageant, 2015.
I can only imagine the kind of confidence and drive one gets after making it big in an industry you want to flourish into. Elaborating on my thoughts she says,
Each time I’ve been crowned at various levels not only has it provided me with crowns, sashes, scholarship money, gifts, networking but it also allows me to increase my confidence, meet new people, open up doors to new opportunities, and be more involved in different service programs and become a helping hand for the community. That’s what keeps me going.
For somebody who is this positive and ambitious, it is but obvious that she is being looked upon as an idol by several young girls. I really wanted to know who does she look up to and why? Her answer did not surprise me, but it sure did make me smile.
“It is my mother! She has always been there by my side every moment, consistently encouraging me to follow my dreams, to reach high for the stars, to go above and beyond. She is my biggest support; my everything! Without her, I don’t think I would of ever made it this far!”
Mothers are such! For somebody who has been so intrinsically attached to modeling, it might not have come as a surprise to qualify as a finalist for Ms. India USA and yet there could be moments of nervousness.
“How did you feel when you discovered that you were one of the finalists?”
When I first found out that I qualified for the Miss. India USA pageant, I was extremely excited but at the same time a little nervous. This is going to be at a national level and I really don’t know what to expect. I’m honestly going to give the best I can.
I can sense the tense-happy mixed feelings that she is going through as the finals are round the corner.
For a girl as beautiful as Zeel, compliments aren’t a new thing. But then each compliment is a boost that encourages her to aim further. Amidst all the compliments that she has got by far, I ask her to pick one.
“It’s tough!” she laughs, “but this one time I was at a community event and a little girl with her mom approached me. She jumped seeing me with my crown and sash that I won from one of my pageants and said “Mommy mommy look she’s a princess”. I went up to her and said “You are a princess too, because true beauty is what’s on the inside. Honestly, I believe each and every single girl has an opportunity to be part of a pageant and it’s not only about your beauty. It’s a lot more about who you are as a person deep within, and not just about your physical beauty.”
Zeel is not just someone who wants to lead by example and boy she is doing it well!
“What do you want to say to all your fans supporting you?”
I ask as I bring the conversation to a close.
“I feel grateful to be exposed to both Indian and American cultures. I am excited to be a contestant for Ms. India USA 2015, which will be held in New Jersey. I believe that I have the potential to represent the Indian community with the values, traditions, and heritage that I uphold. Being a female in the Indian community I have been through numerous breakthroughs at various stages of my life. But these challenges have only taught me more and have only helped me build myself as a strong, confident woman. I want to show the future generations that a girl can be bold and brave holding the Indian culture while living in the American society. We need to be proud of where we come from and the values, traditions and heritage that we hold. Indian women are capable to strive for the highest limits and show others how talented and unique our culture is and this is what I’m here to do.
This year, one of the awards for the Pageant is to win the title of Ms. Social Media. Please make sure to support me in my journey. Like my Facebook page; each LIKE will allow me to gain points and will get me closer to the title.”
You heard it guys! This girl is out there actively changing the face of India for all of us. While she strives to achieve her goals, we as a community need to make it a point to contribute in her victory.
Follow the link and like her page here.
They say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But if the doctor is as pretty and inspiring as Zeel, the apple must be kept miles away!
Stop smiling! Go, vote for our girl!