World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to welcome amazing Queen Shailja Tiku Mrs Wisconsin International 2019.
Full name: Shailja Tiku
Title/Year: Mrs. Wisconsin International 2019
Pageant System: Mrs. International
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
Hobbies: Reading personal growth and development books, nature walking
Platform: Mental health awareness
Years competed: 2018, 2019
Countries visited: Canada, India, United States (I live in the US)
Likes: spending time with family, hanging out with friends, good books, music,
World Class Beauty Queens: Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Shailja. I was born and raised in India and moved to the US nearly 15 years ago for my advanced education. I started my journey as a MD, as a practicing physician I encountered some life altering experiences that shifted my practice from treatment based to preventative care, I went back to school to receive my master’s degree in public health from the UW-Lacrosse, and currently am pursuing my doctorate in public health.
World Class Beauty Queens: What does women Empowerment means to you?
I highly value education as you can probably tell from my resume. To me, education is empowerment and not just for women, but for everyone, I believe education is important as it gives us a perspective to decide on the things we see. For many years, women had not had the same access to education as men did. Even as women certainly have an equal opportunity right now to educational venues, they are still very underrepresented in areas of major decision such as congress.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your pageant history.
Pageantry or as I would say meaningful glamour has been an unaccomplished dream from childhood which I never got a chance to pursue due to my rigorous academic career that I have been balancing while raising a young family. Now was the right time to go after this dream of mine. Mrs. Wisconsin International was my first experience with pageantry and I just competed in the Mrs. International pageant with 60 amazing women from around the world, in July. I am proud to say I was top 16 and the people’s choice award winner.
World Class Beauty Queens: What inspired you to do your first pageant?
I competed in this first pageant for two reasons. First, I wanted to step into my passion outside of what others expected me to do. Second, it gave me the opportunity to share my message of mental health promotion beyond health care settings to people who may not be receiving the care that they need.
World Class Beauty Queens: Why did you choose to compete for your current title?
I was really looking for an avenue for promoting an important platform of mental health awareness. As a practitioner, we use educational routes that are of most importance and Mrs. International certainly encompasses a lot of audience of around the world.
World Class Beauty Queens: To those unfamiliar with your pageant system please tell us what is it about?
Mrs. International is a platform-oriented pageant for married women. The pageant is about celebrating the accomplishments of married women and promoting an important platform they chose. The pageant features women from all around the world and not just from the US.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are you being judged on during the competition?
There are three areas of competition in the preliminary contest- The judges’ interview, evening gown and the fitness wear. For the final competition, the contestants are judged based on: on-stage question, evening gown, fitness wear.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your experience during the competition.
I come from a very academic background so this was a new and exhilarating experience for me. I had never done anything like this before, but you know, surprisingly, I was confident and not too nervous, you are expected to be a little nervous, but it wasn’t anything crazy. I enjoyed the experience and had the opportunity to get to know and cultivate friendships with some amazing women from around the world.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your platform or what cause do you volunteer for.
My platform is about creating mental health awareness through community education. As a trained physician, who has encountered mental health with many patients and struggled with anxiety myself, I understand that the basis for reducing mental health disease and disparities is awareness. We need to educate people on the dangers of ignoring the mind and we need to fight stigmas that surround mental health. The more informed people are about what mental health is, how to identify symptoms and triggers, and where they seek help, the healthier they get.
World Class Beauty Queens: What appearances have you done with your title?
I have collaborated with many community and organizational sponsors who have a mission similar to my platform to carry out events. I volunteer weekly with the Mental Health of America to support with mission of helping families with mental health issues. I also continue to work with the American Health Association.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are some of your achievements?
I am so proud of my achievements. Everything from graduating from medical school (you have to honestly go through it to understand how rigorous that is), to experience of immigrating to a new country, leaving behind friends and family, to graduating my master’s degree with a GPA of 3.96 while struggling with debilitating anxiety and being a new mother, pursuing PhD while raising a young family and being a great mom and wife, I am proud of everything. I am always ready to step outside my comfort zone to become the best version of myself, I am proud of all these achievements. But of course, most of my achievements were only possible with the support I had, from family, friends and mentors so I am equally proud to have had that support.
World Class Beauty Queens: What is your on-stage strategy to win the judges over?
Just have fun! Be in the moment and enjoy the process!
World Class Beauty Queens: What makes you stand out from all those other beautiful girls?
I believe that each one of us is unique, our upbringing, values, experiences, struggles, and triumphs makes each of us unique. We are all unique in our own way. Specifically, for me I believe that my unique educational and professional background as a medical doctor, public health professional and a researcher, coupled with my personal struggle of dealing with and overcoming debilitating anxiety makes me an excellent ambassador for my platform of mental health promotion.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about the moment your name was called out as the winner.
It was surreal; it was a dream come true. It took me a while for everything to sink in and realize that I was chosen to represent my beautiful state and its people.
World Class Beauty Queens: What does it mean to you to be a Beauty Queen?
I am often told that, I am a beauty with brains. I tell people, I love the brains part more because I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into it. If you perceive me to be beautiful, I really didn’t do anything to achieve that. I was blessed with “physical beauty” if you so perceive.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did competing in pageants helped your life?
It is too early to say so since I am very new to pageantry. But even in this one year I have experienced growth in many areas that I had very little knowledge about. I think that I have been able to build a social network to facilitate communication about mental health awareness. On my first announcement about the Mrs. International pageant, I received so many messages from around the world and many people identified with the personal issues that I had mentioned in my post. So, I think for me, I have gotten better about connecting with people, identifying community resources to aid me and I have also just gotten more focused on a career choice.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did pageants helped your self-esteem and body image?
Personally, I don’t think women need pageants to help with their self-esteem and/or body image. A crown does not define a title holder, it is the other way round. Personally, I have faced many challenges in my life and overcame them to accomplish all that I have in my life. Those accomplishments have made me a very confident (but humble) woman, I am very confident in my own skin. I often can go about my daily duties without make-up or obsessing about having perfect nails. I do prioritize on exercising and staying fit mainly for the sake of staying healthy and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.
World Class Beauty Queens: You are an inspiration to all the girls out there. How does it feel?
It is an honor for me. I want to inspire young women to work hard to achieve their goals, to step outside their comfort zone to reach out for their dreams. To remind them as I remind myself and my son that difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for learning better pageant walk?
I honestly can’t advise anyone on that, Ha Ha. I think some women have got it and others just need a little bit more practice. If you are not used to walking in heels frequently, you may need more work but overall, just try your best.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for choosing right pageant dress?
Choose a dress that makes you “feel” beautiful, because if you feel beautiful, you will be confident and confidence is beautiful, both, on and off stage.
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your tips for winning interview?
The interview was by far my favorite part of the competition. I had been looking forward to meeting with the judges and talking about myself and my platform. My tip is, be authentic, stay true to yourself. You can shine bright only when you stay true to yourself.
World Class Beauty Queens: How did you prepare for your competition?
I prepared super hard for every area of the competition except for the fitness round. This is because working out regularly and eating healthily is my lifestyle. I believe this should be a sustainable lifestyle and not something you do to walk down the stage. The key is “sustainable”, so I did absolutely nothing crazy to change that. For all other areas of the competition, I prepared very hard, worked with an amazing interview coach. Walking in heels was the hardest part for me. Before the pageant I only wore flats, now I can handle heels better, ha ha. I think that I was less nervous because I had put all that effort into the preparation.
World Class Beauty Queens: What is one mistake that you've done during competing you wish you could redo and fix it?
I am very growth oriented. I think of mistakes as steppingstone to success because that’s how you learn. I can’t think of a mistake but looking back I would work more on my “walk” especially since I was not at all accustomed to walking in heels.
World Class Beauty Queens: What other mistakes are made by girls during the contest?
It’s not for me to speak for others but I think many women fall in the trap of comparing themselves to others. We have to remember we are all unique in terms of our strengths and weaknesses and our uniqueness is what makes us who we are. I think women have to remember that when you have made this far that there is something about you that brought you thus far.
World Class Beauty Queens: Any modeling or acting experience?
World Class Beauty Queens: What are your plans for 2019 as a Queen?
I will continue my work with Mental Health America, supporting families and providing mental health resources to the community. I really enjoy this work because it’s not at all that you find someone with the right skills willing to give this time, but we also have to remember that organizations like MHA help our communities tremendously and they don’t always have the funding or staff to support all this work. I am certainly going to continue using social media to help others realize that they have many resources if they are struggling mentally.
World Class Beauty Queens: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind
I would like to change the way we think about mental health because mental health is just as important as physical health. There is a direct and indirect correlation of physical and mental health that hasn’t been prioritized so often in healthcare. We have become a very reactive society who prioritizes too much on treatment efforts and not so much on how we can prevent these incidences. I think that mental health education is a huge precursor to creating healthy generations in the future. I hope that I become a small part of this change to become proactive rather than reactive. World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to say thank you for this amazing interview.
Shailja Tiku Mrs Wisconsin International 2019, World Class Beauty Queens Magazine, Photo by The Refinery Photo Studio
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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