Dr. Columbia Mishra Miss Asia California Global 2020-2021
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to welcome amazing Queen Dr. Columbia Mishra Miss Asia California Global 2020-2021.
Full name: Dr. Columbia Mishra
Title/Year: Miss Asia California Global 2020-2021
Pageant System: Global Asia Pageant https://www.globalasiapageant.com/
Education Level: Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Hobbies: Flying airplanes, mentoring students and early-career engineers, singing (lead a music band), writing song mash-ups, playing violin, public speaking (ToastMasters member and winner in Area Contest), weight lifting, traveling, watching movies, listening to music from around the world.
Platform: Advocating for STEM education especially for young girls, Promoting child education, women empowerment through financial literacy, advocating for public policy in technology.
Years competed: 2019-Present
Countries visited: India, China, Nepal, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Dubai, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico, United States of America, Switzerland, Germany
Likes: Innovation, Curiosity, Inclusion, Connecting with the community, Opportunities to interact with the younger generations, Learning new and challenging things, problem solving
Dislikes: Racism, Intolerance, Violence
World Class Beauty Queens: Please tell us about yourself. Hello Everyone! My name is Dr. Columbia Mishra and I design spacecrafts. I am a Senior Staff Systems Architecture Engineer at Maxar Technologies, where I am working on NASA’s Artemis Mission to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. My work contributes directly to establishing permanent human presence in Lunar orbit. Prior to the space industry, I worked as a Senior Thermal Engineer and in computational photolithography at Intel Corporation. Throughout my career I have worked in varied capacities in diverse technology sectors, including for Apple Inc. in California, Stress Engineering Services in Texas, Makino Asia in Singapore, and Tata Motors in India. I am heavily involved with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and have served in multiple leadership roles within the heat transfer community, including as Technical Program Chair for the American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s 2020 Summer Heat Transfer Conference, and team lead within the Student & Early Career Development Council in ASME. I also serve on the CTO Technology Advisory Council of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE). My research has been published in journals such as Nature Materials, Journal of Fluid Mechanics and has been cited over a thousand times.
I am a space enthusiast and training to become a pilot. I mentor first generation high school students and engage with the K-12 community across the country including schools in Oregon, California, Texas and Colorado. I enjoy performing live music online, especially during the pandemic. I live in Silicon Valley, California, USA but grew up in Malda, West Bengal, India as one of three siblings. My parents named us after Space Shuttles, which definitely inspired me to pursue my education and my current profession. My sibling Chandragupta is a Software Engineer back in India and Challenger is a faculty member at the University of Cambridge in the UK. You can learn more about my journey here:
World Class Beauty Queens: Please tell us about your education.
I hold a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, and received my M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University, and Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. World Class Beauty Queens: What does women Empowerment mean to you?
Women empowerment is a very interesting concept to me. At a very first pass I feel a huge sense of discomfort that we are still talking about women needing empowerment in 2021. Shouldn't women have been all powerful and in control of their lives, professions, and bodies by now? But we are not there yet. So, it is interesting to me in many ways. To define it in the context of my own experiences of the world, women empowerment is complete when a woman has full freedom to exercise her choices regarding how she lives her life. Women empowerment is when a woman is able to pursue her dream life with full physical, emotional and financial safety and independence. This includes her choice of leading, being in control of her career, finances, choosing the kind of family she wants or if she wants.
As an engineer and problem solver, I often try to think of ways it is truly achievable. I have seen firsthand that many women who are highly educated and with flourishing careers often don't pay attention to their finances. I think understanding and taking control of finances is a key tool to achieving independence and will allow for empowerment. Societal level changes have to begin somewhere, perhaps at an individual level. With this in mind, as Miss Asia California, I am using my platform to enhance financial literacy amongst women in various sections of the society. Physical and psychological safety is another area I am highly interested in ensuring women around the globe are able to experience. This is very close to my heart and I hope solving challenges in this area through a combination of technology and community involvement becomes a part of my legacy.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your pageant history.
I participated in the Miss Asia California Global pageant in 2020-2021. It is my honor and privilege to serve as the current title holder for Miss Asia California Global. Earlier in 2019, I participated in the Miss India Oregon pageant and was first runner-up. I was also Miss India Portland 2019. During the Miss/Teen/Mrs Oregon and Washington pageant, I also won the title of Miss India Intellectual Washington & Oregon 2019 amongst all the participants. Receiving the highest scores during my interviews and Q&A rounds amongst the incredible group of women made me personally very proud of that achievement. My family, who are very driven by education and intellectual pursuits, were also very excited when I won this title. I have participated in a pageant long before all these wins back in 2008. It was the Miss India Texas in 2008. I became one of the 5 finalists. I featured in the Indo American news and advertisements for Kohinoor diamonds.
World Class Beauty Queens: What inspired you to do your first pageant?
In 1994 Sushmita Sen won the Miss Universe pageant becoming the first Indian woman ever to win the competition and Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World crown becoming the first Indian woman to win the competition. I was in middle school at that time and those events implanted a seed of curiosity in my mind. I didn’t participate in a pageant until I already completed my Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2008. At that time I was working for Oil & Gas in Houston, Texas. I saw a call for participation at the Miss India Texas pageant at the local newspaper and decided to give my curiosity a chance and compete for the Miss India Texas title.
The next time I competed was after a long hiatus in 2019 for Miss India Oregon with very different motivations. This time I had a good idea on what it takes to win and wanted to hone those skills and have a fun time while making connections within the pageant and local community in Oregon and Washington. Connecting with the community was the bigger motivation for me at that point.
World Class Beauty Queens: Why did you choose to compete for your current title?
I moved from Oregon to California during the pandemic to pursue my position in the space industry. I wanted to find a way to connect with the pageant community in California and have some fun while doing so. The Miss Asia California pageant was a great opportunity for me to accomplish both while nurturing my relationships within the pageant system in Washington & Oregon.
World Class Beauty Queens: To those unfamiliar with your pageant system please tell us what is it about?
The AmPowering pageant is part of one of the biggest pageant at worldwide level outside India. AmPowering is an organization working with a vision to Encourage, Inspire, Appreciate and Empower Women. They are running several charity projects in India and USA and were awarded as best non profit in pageant and fashion industry in biggest Global Beauty awards which is the Oscars of Pageant Industry.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are you being judged on during the competition?
During the competition, we have several rounds including an Interview panel, Talent competition, Pageant walk in Indian ethnic attire, ramp walk in pageant gown and finally a question & answer round, which I personally think is the most fun. My understanding is they are essentially judging the contestants based on our own comfort and confidence level while under a lot of pressure being in the spotlight.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your experience during the competition.
During the competition when everything is happening very fast, there is a lot of pressure. Managing social interactions with other participants, organizers, hair & makeup artists, managing wardrobe, looks, practicing talent can all take a lot of toll. I have seen people get dizzy backstage or leave competition at the last moment. One of the participants panicked at the last moment and missed the traditional welcome dance. This being a formation performance required quick thinking on our parts to put together a good show regardless. There is a lot of pressure to ensure the dress, hair and make up look perfect. I went in knowing my hair, makeup or wardrobe won't be perfect and I was comfortable with that idea. In fact I forgot some dance steps during a performance, but to quote my favorite Taylor Swift "But I keep cruising..Can't stop, won't stop grooving.." :). I kept moving, simply keeping in mind that I am doing my best at that moment given all my circumstances and accepting all of myself. This single idea put me at ease and I had fun while winning the pageant Queen title.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your platform or what cause you volunteer for.
Women empowerment primarily through financial literacy, advocating for STEM education especially for young girls, promoting child education, and advocating for public policy in technology.
World Class Beauty Queens: What appearances have you done with your title?
Most of my in-person appearances as a Queen were pre-pandemic and several virtual events post-pandemic. Pre-pandemic I worked on some collaborations with local entrepreneurs in Oregon. I was the guest of honor at Portland's largest Indian American New Year event in 2019 December 31st. I made appearances at local schools and pre-schools in Portland. Some appearances were as a result of our pandemic relief efforts to distribute masks and food at homeless shelters and local businesses. I have done some virtual appearances through podcasts and radio broadcasts. Some of the ones worth a mention are the Youth Program for All India Radio and Seattle’s Channel ATV podcast. I have made several high school and middle school program visits online and some conferences on Diversity & Inclusion, and Student Leadership. These appearances are a great intersection between my personal interest of inspiring the next generation, being a positive role model, and advancing my platform as Miss Asia California Global.
The last appearance which was in person was in May at the prestigious and glamorous Global Beauty Awards in Idaho. I received the 2021 "Best In Science" Global Beauty Award for my professional contributions as an engineer in the space industry and advocating for STEM education.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are some of your achievements?
I received the 2021 "Best In Science Award” in Pageant Industry at The Global Beauty Awards for my professional contributions as an engineer in the space industry and advocating for STEM education. I received the Community Servant Leader 2020 from my Pageant System AMPowering. I have been fortunate to be the recipient of numerous awards in the engineering world, including the 2020 Lakshmi Singh Early Career Leadership Award from the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship. I hold 5 patents pending, 1 granted for my work in thermal architecture and innovation in electronic systems.
I have been one of ten engineers from across the globe to be selected for ASME’s prestigious Early Career Leadership Program to Serve Engineering (ECLIPSE). I work with members of the U.S. Congress to advocate for technology policies, a continuation of my work as the first international graduate student body President of UT Austin. I received the Cockrell School of Engineering Student Leadership Award for my contributions as the graduate student body president representing 13,000 students to the university administration, UT System Board of Regents, City of Austin, and Texas Legislature. I advocated for graduate student policies at the Texas and United States Legislature. As a beauty queen, my relief efforts for the lockdown last year is something I am proud of. I fundraised to support the local community in my hometown of Malda, India for daily wage workers. We were able to employ a whole community of weavers to provide sarees for the women in the adult continuing education center for women empowerment. This was a win-win for the community as our purchases employed the weavers, fueling the local economy as well as supporting the women in the community during these times of need. With our team of AmPowering Queens we distributed masks and food to local businesses and homeless shelters in Portland, Oregon.
World Class Beauty Queens: What makes you stand out from all those other beautiful girls?
Given we are all unique and beautiful in our own ways, it is difficult to remark on what makes me stand out. I can share some values and qualities that are fundamental to me which I am proud of. I value curiosity, innovation and the ability to exercise our voices no matter how difficult the circumstances are. I am a fairly confident person, but in the face of adversity, I allow bravery to compensate for any lack in confidence. Most importantly I never give up, which is something stemming from my inherent optimism. This is something my parents seemed to have somehow inculcated in me and for that I am forever grateful to them.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about the moment your name was called out as the winner.
The moment my name was called out as the winner was very precious to me. I had such a great time in the overall pageant that itself was a big win for me so I wasn’t expecting anything. I was overjoyed, and very excited. I had a lovely time and honestly would have just loved to jump with joy on the stage! I was very happy being crowned, a middle schooler’s dream came true (remember my childhood dream?!) and did my pageant walk waving at the audience!
World Class Beauty Queens: What does it mean to you to be a Beauty Queen?
Being a Beauty Queen to me means an opportunity to redefine what is beautiful and glamorous. I am a scientist and engineer, who flies airplanes, volunteers extensively with the community, loves music and mentors younger generations of scientists and engineers. I hope someone like me becoming a Beauty Queen pushes the limits of the pageant industry on how a Beauty Queen ought to be and stops pigeonholing women on what they can or cannot do to be deemed beautiful by society. As a current title holder, I am continuing to pursue my personal mission & vision prior to being declared a pageant winner. The pageant provides an additional avenue to communicate and amplify these efforts. We have a wonderful community of strong women to support each other. Being Miss Asia California gives me an opportunity to further my platform with the support of this incredible pageant community.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did competing in pageants help your life?
A great outcome of participating in a pageant is the ability to connect and build relationships with members of the community who are from all different industries and professions. Pageant systems attract community members from all walks of life and it is a very interesting way for me to connect with the community. This curiosity and desire to connect played a huge role in me competing in Miss Asia California Global after I moved to California amidst the pandemic.
Personally, competing in pageants helped me realize that I can dream and make them come true too. It boosted my confidence in my ability to set goals and achieve them in any area I chose. I have a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and as we know that is a big goal in itself. To me personally, the ability to be versatile and not be afraid of opinions outside of my circle of focus is a personal accomplishment, whether it is a scientific venture, a societal cause, or a personal development goal. This is something I have had to work throughout my life.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did pageants help your self esteem and body image?
Pageants helped me feel more beautiful in an uncanny way. I had been harsher on myself in the past, an unfortunate consequence of centuries of social conditioning. With my participation in the pandemic, Director Menka Soni of our pageant shared with me her vision of what is beautiful, how giving back to the community is a big part of the Queens winning in our AmPowering pageant system. These in-depth conversations put me at ease and I chose to participate while accepting my body at where I am at the moment. I always have enjoyed dressing up and during the pageant just doing these things that make me feel good, allowed for a more positive self esteem especially pertaining to my own body image.
With relations to the pandemic, it had been even more interesting. A lot of us are not necessarily able to workout or eat right or maintain sanity for that matter. At the competition I didn't feel the need to be perfect. Knowing the mission & vision of the Pageant System, I felt comfortable showing up the way I am. Winning the pageant boosted my confidence even further. There is no perfect just a perfect acceptance of our own selves.
World Class Beauty Queens: You are an inspiration to all the girls out there. How does it feel?
I feel a huge sense of responsibility towards the younger generation. When I was young and looked up to someone, I always tried to emulate their actions. I now feel a responsibility that what I say and do matters more especially for anyone younger I am interacting with. It also pushes me to be a better role model for young girls, which is no easy task. I am very honored to be in this position. When I was younger, role models had a huge impact on my life. Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman to be an astronaut was a big role model. Sushmita Sen, the first Indian woman to win the title of Miss Universe was a role model. The women in my daily life, my mother in particular, is probably the biggest role model in my life. She built the only all girls high school from grounds up in the village area near our hometown. All these women that I looked up to as a young girl, played an important role in shaping my own actions and aspirations. I am honored and feel a huge sense of responsibility towards younger folks in particular. I do a lot of mentoring with high school and middle school students especially around STEM opportunities. I feel regardless of my present title, as an adult, I have a responsibility towards students and younger folks to provide them guidance to the best of my abilities and continue doing my best in both words and actions.
World Class Beauty Queens: What is your on stage strategy to win the judges over?
My own stage strategy is to connect with the audience and show my personality while being in my elements. I love the spotlight and having the opportunity to connect on-stage with all eyes on me is very exciting to me.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did you prepare for your competition?
I talked to the pageant director, previous competitors and looked up some pictures online to get an idea. I am really into fashion, etc and didn't buy a single new thing for my pageant. I decided to participate one week before the event. The only thing I practiced hard was singing my favorite composer A.R. Rahman's song "Dil hai chota sa..udne ki asha" which means "I have the desire to fly in my heart".
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for learning better pageant walk?
Pageant walk can be difficult to master with high heels, I chose a nominal heel that I was ok running around if need be. The key thing I think is to smile, make eye contact, learn and remember the poses when we walk up in front of the stage for the still photographs when facing the judges.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for choosing the right pageant dress?
Tip for choosing a dress is to wear something you are comfortable in. I picked something I felt great in and it was easy to go walk around and interact with others during the event.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for winning an interview?
Best interviews are the one where you are having a conversation and connecting with the interviewers. Enjoying the conversation is my tip.
World Class Beauty Queens: What is one mistake that you've done during competing you wish you could redo and fix it?
One mistake I felt was not enough singing practice with the microphone. I could have been more confident if I practiced more.
World Class Beauty Queens: What other mistakes are made by girls during the contest?
The biggest mistake I saw people make was giving up midway. It is a lot of stress simply due to the number of activities within a short period of time. Connecting with others around us can ease that and allow us to finish together as a team.
World Class Beauty Queens: Any modeling or acting experience?
I have done some fashion shows, stage acting and a few advertisements in the past including one for Intel Corporation, promotional videos for American Society of Mechanical Engineers and The University of Texas at Austin. My Intel appearance aired at the San Jose airport for a month, which was very exciting. I would love to continue doing more appearances through modeling, and being an ambassador especially to promote any social cause and advocacy work for non-profits.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your plans for 2021 as a Queen?
My plans in 2021 as a Queen is to continue fundraising for pandemic relief efforts by our pageant organization AmPowering. I have been specifically working in the community of daily wage workers and an adult education center for women in my hometown. I have a lot of support from my mother and the local organizations in my hometown Malda to carry out these relief efforts. I will continue to promote STEM education and outreach with high school and college students. Inspiring younger folks to reach their full potentials and helping them overcome challenges is something I am passionate about, I will continue working on those through my involvement as mentors at high school programs. I am also in conversation with the Sanni Foundation from Europe working in Southeast Asia to promote child education.
World Class Beauty Queens: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
The legacy I want to leave behind is the idea that we can reach our goals without sacrificing our true selves. I encourage every young person to “Dare to Be You” while fulfilling their life’s mission & vision. Innovation in any sector happens when the right people are working on the right problems. Understanding our true motivations and aligning our passions & values to fulfill these goals is the best way towards a more fulfilled life.
International and State Director: Mrs. Menka Soni
Pageant website: https://www.globalasiapageant.com/
Photo by: Herve Philippe https://www.terrificshot.com/
Hair & Make Up: Mishal Sahdev http://www.mishalsahdev.com/ World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to say thank you for this wonderful interview. Interview by Derek Tokarzewski Owner/Editor in Chief of World Class Beauty Queens Magazine
Dr. Columbia Mishra Miss Asia California Global 2020-2021, World Class Beauty Queens Magazine, Photo by: Herve Philippe, Hair & Make Up: Mishal Sahdev
Interview by Derek Tokarzewski Owner/Editor in Chief Mr United Nations 2018 Platform: Women Empowerment Ambassador to International Foundation for Orphans iffocares.org
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