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Above: Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, told students to welcome
questions about their ethnicity.
Below: Melody Rosas-Granda '14 (left) and Kelynn Offley '15 pose with
Davuluri after her presentation.

Miss America encourages PC students to fight cultural misconceptions

Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, visited Providence College to share her story and to celebrate diversity through cultural competence — the goal of her platform.

The program, sponsored my multiple offices and student organizations, began in Slavin Center’s ’64 Hall with opening remarks from Victoria Cuartas ’15 (Johnston, R.I.), a first-generation American and Rhode Island resident. Cuartas holds the title of Miss Providence and will compete in the 2014 Miss Rhode Island America Scholarship Pageant.

Cuartas offered a powerful piece of advice to fellow students, saying, “Never surrender who you are for the sake of inclusion.”

In her address to the PC community, Davuluri echoed this same message of confidence and identity as she told of her path to becoming the first Indian-American to take the Miss America crown.

Davuluri, from Syracuse, N.Y., began her story with an engaging discussion of what the Miss America organization is. Its four pillars are style, service, scholarship, and success. Miss America focuses largely on academics, and as Davuluri succeeded in its teen programs, she helped pay for her college education by winning numerous scholarships.

Davuluri attended the University of Michigan where she was involved in student government, the Indian American student association, and was part of a sorority. She established a program at a local elementary school in which every classroom represented a different country and demonstrated aspects of its culture, helping to establish cultural competence to children at an early age.

Correcting misconceptions

 

“I grew up with many misconceptions about my ethnicity,” said Davuluri. “They were not malicious, only due to ignorance, so I was often correcting those stereotypes.”

As Miss America, Davuluri launched a campaign called “Circles of Unity” that encourages the public to send her tweets describing what they think cultural competency is, creating awareness and the opportunity for discussion. 

After winning the Miss America title, Davuluri received a negative response on Twitter from some who criticized her victory because of her ethnicity. In taking questions after her talk, Davuluri offered advice to students to overcome adversity and help eliminate misconceptions. 

“When combatting stereotypes, you have to be open to questions,” she said. “If I was not open to questions I would not have the chance to educate. So welcome questions; that way there will be communication and there will be respect.”

The event was sponsored by the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs and co-sponsored by BOP, Residence Life, Student Affairs, Student Multicultural Activities, Student Congress, and the Office of Institutional Diversity.

— Nick Tavares ’16

 
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