The most recent Miss America pageant shook some iconic traditions to the roots this past week.
Legal Insurrection has its fingers on the pulse of current culture. The newly crowned Nina Davuluri from Syracuse, New York, sashayed off with the tiara and the $50,000 scholarship cash after performing a Bollywood fusion dance.
The victory represented a key pageant “first”: Davuluri isn’t just the second consecutive pageant winner from the Empire State — she’s also the first woman of Indian descent to snag the crown.
Kavita Sheth, one of the many Americans of Indian descent, is also a Bollywood dancer and fitness/dance instructor. Sheth was thrilled with the news that a fellow “desi” was crowned Miss America. “It really represents a great achievement for Davuluri personally, but also for the Indian-American community who was cheering her on. Her Bollywood performance allowed many new people the chance to see one of our most popular cultural exports! I am so proud.”
Sadly, after the winner was announced, an assortment of blathering idiots went onto Twitter to share their collective ignorance about Davuluri’s race, religion, and heritage. Showing that the crown is well placed on her head, she responded: “I have to rise above that… I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
And, addressing another trend we have identified at College Insurrection, the pageant officials shook things up with a new scholarship. Awards were extended to contestants going after STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) degrees.
Studies tell us if you educate women, their contributions will lift the economy and the nation. The Miss America Foundation awarded our first STEM scholarships to two contestants who are beginning their careers in the field: Miss California Crystal Lee and Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick.
Crystal Lee has two degrees from Stanford — a B.A. in Human Biology and a Masters in Communication and Media Studies — and wants to complete another graduate program in what?. Chelsea Rick’s career ambition is to become a neurologist, which she’s pursuing by attending the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
It was a tough decision to choose only two contestants when 30 percent of our 53 finalists are focused on STEM-focused careers. But it shouldn’t be a surprise: over the 93 year history of the Miss America Organization, we have told the young women around the country to come to us and we will help them achieve their dreams through higher education.
Yes, some major shake-ups occurred in this year’s competition. We wish Miss America 2014 tons of good luck during her reign!