By MATT CRANE
Paromita Mitra is on a mission to represent not only her state, but also educated women across the nation as she focuses on the Miss USA 2013 competition as the newly crowned Miss Mississippi USA.
Mitra, 21, is a senior at Mississippi State University studying aerospace engineering with a minor in mathematics.
Mitra began competing in pageants in the ninth grade while attending Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg and decided to enter the Miss Mississippi USA pageant to promote a personal passion of hers.
“I always liked the atmosphere and competitiveness that goes along with pageants,” she said. “My personal platform is about promoting higher education, which you don’t see a lot in pageantry these days.”
Immigrating to the United States from Bangladesh at the age of 1, Mitra said she takes advantage of every opportunity this country has given her.
“As an immigrant, I felt like I needed to give back to the U.S. in some way,” she said. “What better way than to represent this wonderful state and celebrate the opportunities this country has given me.”
Attending MSU because of its renowned aerospace engineering program, a passion she began pursuing while in high school, Mitra said her goal is to one day work at NASA.
“My dream job would definitely be working at NASA or any other highly acclaimed space organization,” she said. “I am very interested in rocketry design.”
At MSU, Mitra is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MSU Space Cowboys Rocket Design Team and the MSU Fashion Board.
Bridging two seemingly different worlds, Mitra said her goal is to bring a new face and expectation about women in pageants.
“I want to portray that women in pageants can be highly educated and beautiful as well on both the national and international levels,” she said. “While these are two different worlds, the aspects of competitiveness and the dedication that go into both are very alike.”
As a staunch supporter of higher education and the educational outreach co-director of the Space Cowboys, Mitra said she has been involved with NASA’s STEM program helping to support and influence science, technology, engineering and math topics for America’s youth.
“This is something that we really need here in Mississippi and it’s something I definitely want to promote,” she said. “It’s easy for me to be relatable to younger girls, and I hope through that I can encourage them to pursue a higher education. I think that is how I will make my impact.”
Attending the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas Thursday, Mitra said she was granted access to dress rehearsals which inspires her journey to the Miss USA in spring 2013.
“It was really motivating,” she said. “Seeing them work years to get where they are was very inspirational.”