Throughout the pageantry realm there is a stigma that stereotypically categorizes contestants as beautiful girls who are eager to use their platform solely for entertainment purposes, or that beauty queens only care about their physical appearance. However, my reign proves those stereotypes wrong through my actions.
At the age of eight years old, I was inspired to become a pediatrician while watching a doctor in Cambodia perform cleft lip surgeries for children whose families couldn’t afford it. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the surgeries were based on a lottery system, not all of the children were able to receive care. When I came to that realization, I personally vowed that I would one day put myself in the position to help children in similar situations.
My educational endeavors led to children with disabilities. The path began in middle school when I volunteered for the Special Olympics; watching my peers and the courage it took to not allow the stigma surrounding them to keep them from pursuing their dreams was one of the most humbling moments for me.
Volunteering for the Special Olympics led me to become certified as a behavioral interventionist for children with disabilities in Los Angeles and Ventura County. I help individuals from the age of four to twenty-three achieve positive developmental outcomes. Ultimately, with my certifications and personal experiences, I hope to provide parents and/or guardians of my future pediatric patients with disabilities a personal sense of understanding and comfort.
Through my humbling and educational work with children with disabilities, I have learned to believe in a broader realm of achievement for myself. To do so, I must be courageous in the face of adversity and stigma like all of the children I have worked with. As I carry on my reign and educational goals, I will continue to be an advocate for these communities and individuals who have taught me the life lessons that make me the woman I am today, and the woman I hope to become.
Miss India America: India LaRoda