New York: Nitya Kodali, a 15-year-old Indian American student, was crowned first ‘Miss Teen Telugu Universe’ during an international beauty pageant Oct. 3.
The Telugu Universe pageant consisted of various rounds, including introduction, ramp walk, question-and-answer and talent. Contestants from over 40 countries, including India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand participated in the cultural event cum pageant.
Kodali was among 22 finalists chosen from more than 700 semifinalists to compete in the grand finals representing her Indian Telugu community despite being one of the pageant’s youngest contestants at 15 years old.
Miss Earth India Dr. Tejaswini Manogna crowned Kodali at the event.
“I was in complete shock when they announced my name at the pageant,” Kodali said. “This was my first time competing in a pageant and it is honestly a dream come true to be honored with such a prestigious title. My journey to the crown has certainly been unforgettable and required lots of hard work.”
Kodali, who is a high school sophomore, is pursuing a dual degree program, earning her high school diploma and associate degree at once. Following the pageant, she has competed in and won the titles of ‘Miss Yuvarani USA’ and ‘Miss International Congeniality.’
Kodali, a first-generation Indian American, hopes to inspire others to embrace their roots and culture. She volunteers as a teacher at the Houston Telugu school, helping promote Telugu language. She advocates for mental health as the founder and executive director of the global nonprofit, Letters and Love. Kodali is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and a member of Houston, Texas,’ Bollywood dance team.