- The Parsippany native of Indian and Mexican heritage wants inspire people of all ages to embrace what makes them unique.
New Jersey teen UmaSofia Srivastava was crowned Miss Teen USA at the pageant held in Reno, Nevada last week. The 16-year-old Parsippany native of Indian and Mexican heritage was declared the winner from a pool of 51 accomplished young women representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Miss New York Teen USA Stephanie Skinner was named first runner-up, and Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA Maggie Ross was second runner-up. Earlier in March, Srivastava won the Miss New Jersey Teen USA in March and was a runner-up in the pageant when she was only 14.
According to Parsippany Focus Magazine, the high school Junior at the Academy of St. Elizabeth wore a white minidress with a multicolor floral detail throughout the pageant. For the final round, she changed into “a floor-length Jovani gown from the brand’s spring 2024 collection with layered lilac fabric with rosette details,” the magazine added. She attended Mt. Tabor Elementary School, Brooklawn Middle School, and her freshman year at Parsippany Hills High School.
Speaking to KCR, a television station in Sacramento, California, a day after her Sept. 28 win, Srivastava expressed her gratitude to the selection committee and the organization to her the opportunity to participate in the pageant. “I truly have a vision of what my reign is going to be,” she said. Growing up as “a half Mexican, half Indian,” she talked about “always” having representation. “And to be that for younger children, and an advocate, has become a dream come true.”
The young woman, who hopes to become a UN ambassador, runs her own blog — That’s Fan Behavior — covering everything from feminism, her experience as a woman of color, interviews with changemakers and the many other things she’s passionate about. She works with the Lotus Petal Foundation to help underprivileged children in India receive a well-rounded education, proper nutrition, and healthcare. “The White Jaguar,” a book she wrote and illustrated, inspires people of all ages to embrace what makes them unique. She is also the co-founder of the Diversity & Inclusion campaign at her school, a Kind Campaign leader, and also participates in Mock Trial and Model UN.
She told KCRA that the name for her book “The White Jaguar,” comes from her dad’s nickname for her — “Little Jaguar.” Recalling how she “sometimes felt she didn’t fit in” because of her background, she told the news channel that her book follows a little white jaguar who’s of a different color from all other jaguars. “She goes on a journey where she meets other animals that help her embrace their differences.” She added “a little bit of Hindi, Spanish, French, and English throughout the book” because she wanted “to spread the message of letting people embrace their differences, what makes them unique.”
(Photos, courtesy of Miss Teen USA Twitter and UmaSofia Srivastava’s website.)