- The NYU pre-med student wants to use the platform to inspire and encourage youngsters.
Shreya Gundelly, a second year pre-med student at New York University, was recently crowned Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, becoming the first Indian American to hold the title. She will represent the state of Wisconsin at the Miss Teen USA pageant to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma in November.
The 19-year-old from Mequon has been participating in pageants for the past six years. A lifelong dancer with a love for public speaking, she fell in love with the pageant world. But it was not an easy journey.
“For the past six years, I have dreamt about writing this post, dreamt about describing an unreal amount of joy and gratitude, and explaining just how blessed I am,” she wrote on her social media handles. “But now, as I sit here three days post pageant weekend, I am still simply at a loss for words,” she wrote. “For six years, I guided myself throughout the pageant world, coming just short of a national title four times. Each of those times, I walked off the stage being told ‘something bigger is out there for you,’ and after enough times of hearing that statement,I myself began to doubt whether it was even true. Throughout my entire journey I needed to remind myself that ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and it was each of the people I met along the way, the memories, and even the shortcomings, that have made this moment and the journey here that much sweeter.”
She told NBC affiliate WMTV that she “never had a role model to really look up to that looked like myself,” adding that a lot of people told her she couldn’t do pageants because she was Indian.”She told the news channel how her ethnicity at first felt like an obstacle. “I would never talk about my Indian classical dance, I would never share my culture because I was embarrassed by it, honestly,” she said. But it was pageantry that helped her realize that culture is part of what makes her special.
She told WMTV that now she wants to spread that message to young people and show them that anything is possible. “My platform [is] about encouraging and inspiring everyone, regardless of your background, to go after your dreams,” she told WMTV. She told WMTV that her mother inspired her to go into the medical field. Although med school will keep her busy, she said she “wants to stay involved in pageantry in some way.”
Winner of the Miss Midwestern States Junior Teen, she was among the top 15 in the USA National Miss Wisconsin in 2018.