FAIR LAWN, N.J. – Earlier this year, Ria Gulati of Fair Lawn wanted to venture outside her comfort zone.
When she found out there was a pageant in her hometown, and the winner would go on to compete for Miss New Jersey, she thought: “Why not go for it?”
Being that it would be her first pageant, the 22-year-old didn't expect to win the August competition.
Boy, was she wrong.
Gulati was crowned Miss Ramapo Valley, besting fellow competitors from Bergen, Passaic and Essex Counties.
The Rutgers University graduate said she “had no idea what to expect” at the pageant, but she prepared the best she could.
Gulati exercises regularly, so that took care of the swimsuit round.
As for the talent round, as an Indian American, she has been singing Indian songs for years. She chose one and practiced. And she remained natural for the interview round, so judges could get to know her and her platform -- discovering your best self through volunteerism.
As Miss Ramapo Valley, Gulati will spend her tenure focusing on spreading the word about the benefits of volunteerism.
It is something she learned first-hand when she started volunteering at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick during college to get herself through some low times.
“I had no idea the impact it would make on me. I started volunteering and realized it was way more than just getting my mind off of something. It was something that had helped me discover what other people were going through, meet people of all ages, find out their stories,” she said.
Volunteering helped Gulati discover that everybody goes through struggles, she said.
“Even though our struggle may be the biggest thing in our life, when we put it in the bigger perspective, maybe it can help us realize the importance of looking at the positivity in life,” she said.
Gulati will be competing for Miss New Jersey in June.
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