We spoke with the RU student that’s competing in the Miss America World competition

She’s not your typical pageant queen

Rising senior, Saloni Sawant is not your typical finalist for the Miss America World competition. The 21-year-old New Jersey native is not what you would expect from a competition that appears to be based heavily on appearances. Saloni studies Biology  and as her final year approaches, she is heading off to a global competition where she will be judged on her interviews, modeling skill, physical fitness and athleticism, mastery of multimedia, and philanthropic endeavor.

If she clears the preliminary round, then she, along with 19 other candidates, will compete onstage at the National Final which takes place on August 13th in Orlando, Florida.

We asked Solani what it’s really like being a student and a pageant queen.

How did you become involved in the Miss World America competition?

I became involved in other competitions first such as Miss India New Jersey where I was a title holder from 2014-2015. I was a runner-up in the national pageant, and I ended up going further to an international pageant held in Thailand and India representing the US and becoming the runner up internationally as well. Getting involved with pageantry and modeling in the first place sparked my interest and I finally decided to compete again.

How much Jersey pride do you have?

I can’t express enough how much I love having had the opportunity to be born and brought up in this beautiful garden state and also attending Rutgers University where I gained knowledge, understanding, and experiences I will cherish for a lifetime-absolutely wouldn’t have had it any other way!

What were some obstacles you came across?

Some obstacles I came across were within me. It was hard for me to get back up and start a story that I had thought had closed forever-so self-motivation. Time management between balancing jobs, volunteering, hitting the gym every day,and taking summer classes definitely gave me a challenge and still is, but it makes me all the more determined.

What are some things people may not know about you?

I am a black belt in tae kwon do, I’m multilingual, and I have quite the sweet tooth.

How do you feel about the stigma associated with competitions like America’s Miss World?

I believe that the stigma remains that beauty pageants are about beauty only whereas they give a huge platform to make real changes that not many can create on their own while also recognizing many different women. I would say that I disagree that looks are the only thing showcased because there is so much endurance, preparation as well as conditioning behind the scenes to be the best version of yourself while focusing on your future goals with the title. Furthermore, the competition is real! You get what you put in.

Have you ever felt stereotyped as a result?

I personally have not. Pageantry gave me the tools I needed to be confident, open-minded, and determined and I am lucky to have my friends and family support my love for it. (Ps: I have less camera-shyness now)

How did you balance school and this competition?

It’s tough-can’t argue with that, but when I’m passionate about something, I will manage to do whatever I can in my power to achieve that. I create daily, weekly, and monthly agendas for myself to stay on task and try to multitask activities together such as reading my notes at the gym.

What prizes have you received and what are you up for?

in conjunction with the main titles I mentioned previously, I have been Miss Catwalk, Miss Intelligent, and Top Swimsuit in Miss Teen NJ.

What is the upcoming process of the competition going to look like in Orlando?

It’s going to be a tough week, but I will certainly make the most of it by making every second count! There are many preliminaries including the famous “beauty with a Purpose” project, multimedia challenges, fitness challenges, and so much more! Can’t spoil everything though!

How excited are you? How nervous?

I’m extremely excited for this amazing opportunity and I don’t think the nervousness ever disappears no matter how many times I’m on stage, but it’s the good kind!

What are your expectations?

To have as much fun as possible, represent my state to the best of my ability, bring exposure to the causes dear to me, meet new people—show the US what NJ is all about—and to make memories for a lifetime!

What would be the first thing you do when (not if) you win?

GO TO DISNEY WORLD! Seriously, it’s right there.  Just kidding, call my mom most likely.

Rutgers University