• Derek Tokarzewski

Dr. Neelam Chahlia Mrs. Washington America 2019


Dr. Neelam Chahlia Mrs. Washington America 2019, World Class Beauty Queens Magazine,

World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to welcome amazing Queen Dr. Neelam Chahlia Mrs. Washington America 2019.


Full name: Dr. Neelam Chahlia

Title/Year: Mrs. Washington America 2019

Pageant System: Mrs. America

Age: 39

Zodiac sign: Gemini

Hobbies: Yoga, Folk Dance, Fashion, Keeping up on the state of the economy

Platform: Strength in Motherhood, Returnship programs for Women, Victoria Siegel foundation

Years competed: 3months

Countries visited: India, Nepal, Canada, USA

Likes: Lentil soup, a cup of hot chai

Dislikes: Cold chai

Status: Married


World Class Beauty Queens: Please tell us about yourself.

I am a proud resident of  Washington, I created history by being the first woman of Indian origin to win the title of Mrs. Washington America. As a first-generation American, I have melded both cultures. Being a member of a military family, I was exposed not only to various regions, met people all over the world and consider myself a global citizen. I was born and raised in India and moved to Seattle after my marriage in 2008. I have been married for eleven years. Dinesh and I are raising a beautiful family of two kids, Zoey (8) and Dax(4).

As a first-generation American coming from a middle-class family and a very small town, where opportunities were limited, especially for women. I believe I am living the American dream through my hard work and dedication in the new much-beloved home country. I have an academic background, received a gold medal for my Master's degree from the then President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam. I am the first Ph.D. in my extended family and received a full scholarship for it based on merit. I went on to receive the prestigious National Young Scientist Award for my Ph.D. dissertation and healthcare research findings. I earned a Business certificate from Stanford University and worked at the intersection of healthcare and technology at Premera. I was working at Microsoft before deciding to take a break from career to take care of my young children.

World Class Beauty Queens: What does women empowerment mean to you?

I believe women empowerment is when women have the ability to choose, and not because someone gave permission but because being apart of the world we deserve that empowerment. Giving them autonomy and self-determination to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way. 


World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your pageant history.

I have never participated in a pageant before, I have been in the pageant world for only four months. I won the pageant 6weeks into the system.


World Class Beauty Queens: What inspired you to do your first pageant?

I was forced to take a break from my career to care for my sick child but I’m having no luck getting back. Realizing this as a systemic issue, I started working on returnship programs for women like me. I believe I can further take this cause with the platform of pageantry. So, I decided to join Mrs. Washington to meet like-minded women.


World Class Beauty Queens: Why did you choose to compete for your current title?

I decided to compete so that I can further raise awareness about the causes that are close to my heart. I wanted to spread awareness regarding the drug epidemic our country is facing and I believe when you have a title, people tend to listen. I have my “Strength in Motherhood” platform that I created after my second pregnancy. I personally faced emotional and physical struggles during my second pregnancy, and instead of despair taking hold I decided to help other moms. I volunteer as a patient advocate at Eastside Fetal maternal as well as at Seattle Children’s. I believe with the world of pageantry and a title, I can further extend my reach. 


World Class Beauty Queens: To those unfamiliar with your pageant system please tell us what is it about?

Mrs. Washington America is the only official pageant for married women in the state of Washington and road to Mrs. America, and then to Mrs. World.


World Class Beauty Queens: What are you being judged on during the competition?

I believe the judges were looking for someone who’s authentic, has a strong platform and can be the right representative for the organization.


World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your experience during the competition.

I had a wonderful learning experience during the competition. It was a group of strong empowered women coming together, who faced their personal challenges and grew to help others. 


World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your platform or what cause do you volunteer for.

As Mrs. Washington, I’m blessed to be able to help empower women and try to save teen lives from drugs.

180 lives are lost each day to drug abuse, it’s like a plane crashing each day! I’m fundraising for the Victoria Siegel Foundation to prevent drug overdose in teens. 

My difficult pregnancy with my son diagnosed with a hole in his heart gave me the mission to help other moms. Besides my son's complications, I had my own physical complications because of which I was compleely bed-ridden. Instead of despair taking hold, I decided to be the best version of myself. I started “strength in motherhood” program where moms can support one another. As I truly believe "motherhood does not erase who you are, it adds another layer."

I was forced to take a break from my career to care for my sick child but I’m having no luck getting back. Realizing this as a systemic issue, I want to work on a tax incentive bill for corporations that provide returnship programs for women like me. 

World Class Beauty Queens: What appearances have you done with your title?

I have multiple had appearances throughout the country. The most impactful was when I addressed over 50,000 people at Bellevue Family 4th. I could see myself transform, from being hesitant to speak to a recruiter to addressing the crowd in two months. It was a huge leap for me and speaks about the platform pageantry provides for women to grow. Most memorable was being a judge at Miss California World. I believe being a judge is more difficult than being a contestant.


World Class Beauty Queens: What are some of your achievements?

I come from a small town in India where I would carry my own clean drinking water in a pot. Now being crowned Mrs. Washington America 2019 is a dream come true through hard work and dedication in the new much-beloved home country. 

I have a  stellar academic background, received a gold medal for my Master's degree from the then President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam. I am the first Ph.D. in my extended family and received a full scholarship for it based on merit. I went on to receive the prestigious National Young Scientist Award for my Ph.D. dissertation and healthcare research findings. I have earned a Business certificate from Stanford University.

Nine years ago I was at the Vancouver Winter Olympics! I lead the team from Portugal at Parade of Nations in BC Place Stadium, Vancouver Canada, in front of 3.8 billion viewers! I was one among the 82 placard bearers to be chosen out of 20,000+ applicants. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity and experience to lead the team both in the opening and closing ceremony!


World Class Beauty Queens: What makes you stand out from all those other beautiful girls?

I believe every woman in the pageant I competed are strong, beautiful but what sets me apart from others it that I have had the experience of living in two different parts of the world. Seeing the problems first hand and coming up with a solution. Being the first Indian- American women to win Mrs. Washington, having come from a small town in India opens doors to all women- signifying that pageants are open to women of all colors and backgrounds.


World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about the moment your name was called out as the winner.

It was a total surprise. To be honest, I was not expecting to win. To process hundreds of emotions in such a short span of time is not easy.


World Class Beauty Queens: What does it mean to you to be a Beauty Queen?

It means great responsibility. It means women around the world look at me as a role model and a drive to change. My community takes great pride in me representing them at the state and national level. 

World Class Beauty Queens: How did compete in pageants helped your life?

I have seen Mrs. Washington America help further the causes that I am passionate about. Also, I have seen personal improvement on many fronts- public speaking is one of them.

World Class Beauty Queens: How did pageants help your self-esteem and body image?

I believe pageants provide a wonderful platform for someone dealing with self-doubt. You are surrounded by a group of supportive women and it is all about empowerment and growth. I truly believe if someone is going through a difficult phase, they should definitely join a pageant.


World Class Beauty Queens: You are an inspiration to all the girls out there. How does it feel?

It comes with great responsibility. After my daughter was born, I would always set a good example in front of her and now I have thousands of women looking up to me, I feel I have a great responsibility in everything I do.

World Class Beauty Queens: What is your onstage strategy to win the judges over?

Be yourself, be authentic and have a genuine smile.


World Class Beauty Queens: How did you prepare for your competition?

I divided my competition into different sections and planned a strategy around each. For my communication, I hired a communication coach, practiced at least 5-6 hrs, Record myself on the phone and listen. I read a lot of books. I met the leaders of my community, gave presentations in front of council members. For my wardrobe, I worked with a pageant coach to select a wardrobe for each occasion. For my walk, I practiced everyday 1-2 hrs with a coach.


World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for learning better pageant walk?

There is a lot of information on the internet on how to do a pageant walk. It also helps to take coaching from previous queens or someone who does it professionally.

World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for choosing the right pageant dress?

It’s not the dollar value of the dress but how you look in the dress. How confident you feel in the dress matters the most.


World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for winning interview?

Be authentic and genuine. Judges who interview pageants are experienced and can easily sense if you are fake.


World Class Beauty Queens: What is one mistake that you've done during competing you wish you could redo and fix it?

I spent too much time on visual designers to perfecting my bio. I could have better used that time on something else.


World Class Beauty Queens: What other mistakes are made by girls during the contest?

My guess would be spending too much time to finalize the evening gown or interview dress Or buying too much and not being able to wear them.


World Class Beauty Queens: What other mistakes are made by girls during the contest?

I think eating right and having a good night’s sleep is essential, so do not try to stay up late the night before the interview or the final event.


World Class Beauty Queens: Any modeling or acting experience?

None


World Class Beauty Queens: What are your plans for 2019 as a Queen?

My plan is to make a difference in my community through the title of Mrs. Washington America. Now that I have this responsibility, I can further raise awareness, educate and draw people to causes they might not have known before and for themselves to believe in these causes. To help improve someone’s life


World Class Beauty Queens: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

I want people to look at me as a “change-maker” Someone who is ready to take up the mantle and make a change, no matter how small that is.

International Director:David Marmel

National Director: David Marmel

Your Local Director: Pamela Curnel

Pageant website: http://www.mrswashingtonpageant.org/index.html World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to say thank you for this amazing interview.

Dr. Neelam Chahlia Mrs. Washington America 2019, World Class Beauty Queens Magazine,

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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