Serene Singh was shocked when she made it to the top 10 in her first pageant. She was wearing a $5 dress with no makeup and flat shoes when her name was called.
She was sure she was missing something. “How could I be in the top 10?” she thought.
That was back in 2016. Since then, Singh has come a long way.
Singh has won several titles, including Miss Colorado 2020, and placed in the top 10 of the Miss World America contest earlier this month.
But Singh, a 23-year-old from Colorado Springs, has also achieved feats outside of pageantry.
She is a Rhodes Scholar, she started her own nonprofit, and she’s a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford.
For Singh, pageantry has been a tool for personal growth.
“When I first started pageantry, I went in with the misconception that it’s all about beauty,” said Singh, a Rampart High School graduate.
Singh quickly discovered that pageantry was actually a way to gain new skills, including interviewing and public speaking, as well as learning how to be adaptable and confident, she said.
“I think another really important part of it is reminding myself how important it is for women to be multi-disciplined and be OK and proud of that,” Singh said.
Part of her motivation to participate in pageants was to bring a more diverse representation into pageantry as a Sikh woman and to inspire other women.
Singh said participating in pageants boosted her confidence in herself, but she realized pageants were not an opportunity everyone could access.
“I think people don’t always see why someone competes in pageants,” Singh said. “We don’t teach self-love in schools. We don’t teach confidence in schools.”
That’s why Singh developed a national nonprofit known as the Serenity Project.
The organization is a mentorship program that provides at-risk women survivors of trauma, domestic violence and human trafficking with support, tools and skills to overcome their past experiences and move forward.
“I really think confidence is what it is,” Singh said. “Being happy with who you are and how you are and constantly wanting to be better is the true power that I found, and if I could even just give a little of that to some of the women that might need it most in this country at this time — that is the purpose that I want to fill that is so much bigger than myself.”
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