On pageant day, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. I awoke slightly disoriented, having tossed and turned throughout the night. I went to my hair and makeup appointment and my artist did an incredible job. However, she had not taken into account the length of my hair, so she didn’t end up finishing until 9:40. I was so worried about arriving late and losing points. By the time my sister dropped me off at the theater, I ran over to where the other girls were standing. “You made it just in time!” they shouted. I looked at my phone. 10 a.m. I had gotten so lucky and finally let myself breathe.
Now it was time to get everything organized. We were quickly instructed to get into our white ao dai and before I knew it, we had completed a run through of the entire show. We were then given time to relax in our dressing rooms before the show started. I was so happy to be in the dressing room with half the girls because they were so energetic. We were dancing and singing around the room, calming all of our nerves.
When the time came to announce Top 8, everything flew by. Before I knew it, it was time to announce Top 5 and I was nervous once again, trying my hardest to not let it show in my smile. My heart sank a little when there was only one card left and I hadn’t been called, but I was excited for the other girls and couldn’t wait to hear what they had to say. “Contestant #11!” I stepped forward with surprise, smiling hard and thanking my lucky stars that I had somehow made it to Top 5. I couldn’t believe it, but I was thrilled. Once again, I was the first to answer the question. I was still nervous, but this time I discussed my passion for addressing mental health issues within the Asian Pacific Islander community and was pleased with my answer. Once I finished, it was so nice to relax and listen to what the other girls had to say.
Once it was time for crowning; all I could do was smile. I had no expectations whatsoever because I was happy to have experienced and grown so much along this journey and couldn’t believe the pageant was coming to an end. As they began announcing Court, I was so overjoyed for each girl who won a title as they had practiced so hard the past two months and truly shone that day; I was so proud of their accomplishments.
“1st princess is…Savannah Pham!” I heard my family, who had traveled all the way up from Southern California, cheering for me and I stepped forward in awe with a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t believe it! I had started this journey thinking, “I’m not pageant material,” and had never done anything like this, so being able to earn a title meant so much to me.
One of the main reasons I joined MVNCI was because I appreciated the emphasis on community service. The philanthropy platform is more than just something to make a contestant look impressive. Each and every one of us truly had a platform we were passionate about. As a Court, we have decided to center our service projects on the topics we are passionate about. I am looking forward to spreading awareness of mental illnesses and treatments within the community in order to decrease stigma.
I am so thankful for all of the support I have received from my family and friends as well as the MVNCI Staff. It’s an absolute honor to have been crowned 1st Princess and I can’t wait to serve the Vietnamese community and see what we accomplish as Court!