Royal Roots: Former Miss Gamecock competes for Miss USA crown – UofSC News & Events
Former journalism student aims to help students ignite a love of reading
Published on: July 29, 2022; Updated on: July 29, 2022
By Alexis Watts, [email protected]
Big things come in small packages. Ask Meera Bhonslé. She’s only 5-foot-2, but oozes with pride, poise, determination, and dedication to children.
“Everybody says, ‘You’re so small.’ All my life it has been used against me, but I think there is a strength in me,” says Bhonslé. “I believe that your size and your appearance do not determine what you can do in your life. You can do anything as long as you have the courage and determination inside of you.
Bhonsle may not wear the Miss South Carolina USA crown every day, but she displays all the qualities of a queen. Her sparkling smile, warm personality, and compassion for others speak to her gracious confidence. She is proud of her multicultural background and makes it her mission to create a special bond with everyone she meets.
“I was reading to a class and the children were asking me where my family was from. I told them that my father was from India and my mother was from El Salvador, and this little boy lit up and said, “That’s where I’m from!” It was as if I had painted the sky. He was so excited and came over to talk to me, and we talked a bit in Spanish. It was just great to have that little moment with him,” says Bhonslé. “In minority communities, kids don’t always have a role model that looks like them, and I think relationships like that are super important.”
Originally from Lexington, South Carolina, and a graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she earned her degree in multimedia journalism in 2018. She worked as a reporter for the Cola Daily before being crowned Miss Carolina. South USA in March.
Bhonslé won her first competition at just 5 months old when her mother carried her on stage. Competing became another way to bond with her mother.
“My mother came to the United States when she was 14, and she didn’t speak English at all, so she watched a lot of TV to learn the language,” she says. “One of the things she loved to watch was beauty pageants. So as a child she would watch Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Universe, and she always dreamed of being able to do it but never got to. means. So now it’s something fun that we can do together.
Bhonslé continued to enter pageants and won the Miss Wildcat title at Lexington High School. In 2018 she won the coveted title of Miss Gamecock and says representing the UofSC is something she will never forget.
“Being Miss Gamecock was very special. It will always be one of my favorite titles because I love this university so much I can’t even put it into words,” she says. for the University of South Carolina because some of my fondest life memories are here, and this is my home.”
“I believe that your size and your appearance do not determine what you can do in your life. You can do anything as long as you have the courage and determination inside of you.
Meera Bhonslé, 2018 multimedia journalism
Bhonslé deepened her passion for encouraging children to read during her senior semester project in South Carolina. She visited schools in Dillon County while researching rural and underfunded schools featured in the hallway of shame documentary.
“Meeting with the students of these schools made me realize that helping the children of South Carolina is what excites me the most. I just think our state can produce amazing people who can become our leaders,” she said. “This senior semester project made me realize that I wanted to do something like this for the rest of my life.”
His title is also more than just a crown: Bhonslé goes to schools to promote his platform, “Reading is leading”. She believes her success stems from her family instilling in her an early love of reading.
“Every summer, our father made us write a story and draw pictures,” she says. “It was our duty every summer day for 10 years, and that’s where my little talent for journalism started.”
Bhonslé also credits her communication skills to the university’s journalism school and her mentors. She recently visited sports media professor Kevin Hull and students at J-school.
“He’s such a positive and fun person to be around, and the students gravitate to that,” says Hull. “I sent her a note congratulating her on winning Miss South Carolina USA, and she immediately set a time to come to school and see everyone.”
Bhonslé sees his role as a journalist as a challenge to connect with his community and help rebuild respect and appreciation for local media.
“It’s not a glamorous job. It’s long hours. This is a difficult work. It’s harassed. As local journalists, we bear the brunt of the problem, and we are simply here to report the facts as we see and hear them,” she said. “I hope I can help people learn to love and trust our local media again.”
Bhonslé will go through countless hours of training and preparation before competing at Miss USA on October 3. She says she hopes her time on stage will allow young girls to continue breaking all stereotypes.
“During a pageant, I was asked what it felt like to look so different from the typical beauty queen. I said I was breaking glass ceilings here, and there’s a little girl staring who probably looks like me and maybe has naturally curly hair or parents from another country, or maybe English wasn’t her first language. she looks at me and says, ‘Well, if she can do it, I can do it too.’”
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