Khusbu Mishra was crowned Miss Nepal US 2014 at the grand finale of the prestigious pageant held at Queens Theater in New York on August 23, 2014. Here’s an interview with Khusbu after winning the title.
1. Is there any difference between Khushbu Mishra, before and after the pageant?
I am still moping my apartment floors, cooking my meals and going to school so there is no real difference between Khushbu Mishra before and after the pageant. But yes, I do feel more responsible now holding the Miss Nepal US title. I hope I can carry the crown with grace and humility and leverage it for the better of society like I dreamed it to be.
2. Briefly tell us about yourself, your passion, and your dreams.
When I see myself in the mirror, I see a daughter. I am the eldest of 6 children so I have to be the most responsible one. That way, my siblings will have someone close to their age to look up to. My passion is in development economics. I am currently a third year doctoral student and I hope to use this degree to conduct research on several issues concerning developing economies such as Nepal. I dream that my research will be used to create positive change in developing countries.
3. What made you participate? Whom do you draw inspiration from?
First of all, it was the prize money. My youngest sister wants to go to medical school, but the expenses are high. I will use the prize money towards her medical school fees. Second, I was hoping to break the stereotype associated with beauty and fair skin and I am glad I have done it. Third, I wanted to use the Miss Nepal US platform to shed light on gender discrimination. I wrote a poem on domestic violence faced by thousands of women in Nepal and recited it during the talent show portion of the competition.
As cliche as it sounds, my mother is the most inspirational person in my life. Despite coming from a lower middle class family, she has been able to provide high-quality education to all of us 6 children. She broke the societal practice of not educating daughters, especially sending them to school abroad. She taught me to become bold and persistent and I aspire to become a strong, independent woman like her.
4. In the past, Miss Nepal US has gone through a lot of controversies, how was the organizing committee this year?
I did my research before I decided to take up the Miss Nepal US contest, and I am aware of the past controversies so I was prepared to face a few myself. But being a part of the process myself (and I am sure my fellow contestants share the same sentiments), I did not see any controversies. Our trainer used to say, “there cannot be a beauty pageant without controversies”, but I think we have managed to defy that this year. The organizing committee did their best to accommodate and oversee all 14 contestants.
5. What did you learn in one week training? How were the trainers?
Our trainers taught us things like how to walk in high heels, sit and stand in perfect postures, hold a microphone properly and smile for long periods of time. Trust me, these are really hard things to practice all the time without getting your feet, back and cheeks tired. I was especially fond of our choreographer Suresh Manandhar. He was a true professional. Even during the most stressful times, he was very sweet and calm with us. He was always encouraging, positive and impartial.
6. Did you feel there was going to be a tough competition? How well prepared were you?
I had watched the 2013 contest and the girls were so good, especially the ones in Top 5 round so yes I thought I was going to face a tough competition. This inspired me to work hard and prepare well. For the cultural round, I designed a cultural wear inspired by Tharu and Mithila cultures with the help of my mother. For the talent show, I wrote a poem on domestic violence and practiced it everyday for over a month before the pageant. I also learned how to do ramp walk from youtube. I did a lot of research on questions asked at beauty pageants, on world/Nepal events and kept a notebook to review these from time to time. Being a student all my life, I was used to giving academic presentations but presenting yourself as a beauty queen is entirely different. I had the confidence but not the appropriate skills required by a beauty queen so I watched the videos from Miss Nepal US 2013 and learned to become calm from Bartika Rai, my predecessor and Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000.
7. You were appointed as a youth ambassador for NRNA ICC by the President Shesh Ghale right after the finale; how does it feel?
I am truly honored and inspired by the humility of President Shesh Ghale and immensely thankful to him and the entire NRNA that they considered me for the post. I am looking forward to working with them to make this journey fruitful.
8. Would you suggest the youth to participate in a pageant, Why or why not?
I would leave it for the individuals to decide. It may not seem so but it is a lot of hard work. Because we only have a week to groom ourselves, the training is intense. I woke up around 6 am everyday to prepare myself for the training and by the time we finished dinner, it was 8/9pm. Then I would do some research on world issues and no matter how much I tried, I could never go to bed before 1 am, so it was a lot of mental and physical stress. What made it easier for me was that I was determined to put my best and I had clear goals on why I wanted to participate. So if you are someone who likes challenges and is not afraid of hard work then sure its your cup of tea.
9. Tell us about your upcoming projects. What can we expect from you?
Besides continuing with my research in Development Economics, I have been invited for talks to the Nepali Young Professionals in New York (NYPNY) and Association of Nepali Terain in America (ANTA) convention so these are my immediate projects. Besides, I am planning to launch the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign in Nepal. I would use this campaign to conduct workshop and awareness raising activities throughout Nepal to end the skin color based discrimination in Nepal.
10. Piece of advice you want to give to your readers?
One piece of advice that mother always gave me was to be persistent. I have found this very useful in reaching my goals in life so if you want something in life, go for it with persistence. Never give up.