Nina Davuluri, Miss America, celebrates Asian-Pacific American heritage month in Northern Virginia
DULLES, Va. (NewsChannel 8) - Last September, Nina Davuluri made history when she became the first contestant of Indian descent to win the Miss America pageant.
This weekend, she made a stop in Northern Virginia, celebrating Asian Pacific American heritage month.
"The night I won, I was told to repack my belongings into two suitcases, and I have been living out of those two suitcases since September."
The reigning Miss America travels 20,000 miles a month, devoting a year to service, and promoting issues surrounding diversity. On Saturday, she visited the Dulles Town Center Macy's, highlighting her background.
Davuluri showcased her talents on the national stage during the competition, by performing a dance that's unique to India, and a tribute to Bollywood.
"For me, what it really came down to is that I knew if I was going to have this title, it had to be in my terms and in my way, and it wouldn't have meant as much if I didn't stay true to myself," said Davuluri.
The 25-year-old admits that transformation took time, and personal growth.
"I grew up watching Miss America feeling like I could really never be in this role because I didn't look a certain way... I didn't fit the certain stereotype of what people automatically think when they hear of Miss America," said Davuluri.
But today, she's a reflection of the changing fabric of this country, inspiring young girls like Sivani Parbadia of Stafford.
"It's really exciting to see someone of our heritage have such an awesome platform," said Parbadia.
"Just a year ago she was just like me...she was in college, she just wanted to compete, and she thought she had a chance, so she went out and took it," said George Mason University student Lottye Lockhart.
And while she's not capturing the attention of adoring fans, she's winning over the hearts of some high schools boys, including one Pennsylvania student who recently asked her to prom.
"I have to say it wasn't my first prom invitation, and I thought it was very endearing. It was so sweet and genuine, and it was unfortunate he got suspended, but he does get to go to prom," said Davuluri.
Davuluri will be passing on her title September 14, and will eventually pursue her M.B.A. She has already toured Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown, so she may be back in the area fall 2015.