- Associated Press - Monday, November 10, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - A software manager, modern-day beauty queen and philanthropist from Columbus is making her mark in business and in the world.

Mischaela Advani is the recently crowned Miss USA United Nations 2015. She plans to combine her experience as a former model and as a software development product manager with her passion for human rights and global issues to be a representative for the United Nations and an ambassador for its programs.

Crowned Oct. 24, the 25-year-old has been running in high gear.

Advani has attended a birthday party for the UN, stood behind Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn during a rally focused on ensuring consideration of women’s rights, met Gloria Steinem, helped put together the framework for a report on Midwest issues and attended the

The pageant recognizes contestants who want to be young leaders who support global initiatives and think like diplomats.

When announcing the beginning of Advani’s reign as Miss USA United Nations 2015, United Nations Pageants described her as “an ideal fit for the pageant system, which encourages titleholders to use their platforms to campaign for change and support charitable causes.”

The organization’s leaders cited Advani’s track record of positive involvement with the UN and its programs, The Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1qAgzgZ ). They specifically mentioned Advani’s delivering the closing address for the 2012 United Nations Day celebration, which drew attention to the prevalence of human trafficking in developing countries, that brought audience members to tears.

Karen Garrity, Advani’s former elementary school principal in Columbus, said it’s no surprise to her that Advani would be awarded a title linked to service and having a positive effect on the world.

Garrity presented the former Mischaela Elkins with the Louise Dalton scholarship award in sixth grade.

The scholarship, established in honor of Garrity’s mother, goes to a student with academic excellence and a good attitude who is compassionate and has demonstrated an ability to overcome some challenge in life, Garrity said.

As a compassionate person who valued service and has positive relationships with those around her, Advani was a good fit for the award, Garrity said. She added that it’s amazing she’s gone on to become such a leader.

Advani said she is excited for the year to come and the chance to have a platform to support United Nations campaigns, including “Girl Up.”

Girl Up is focused on getting young girls involved in women’s equality issues, and other opportunities and responsibilities that come with her new title.

Advani will do all of those things while still continuing in her day job at Cision, a Stockholm-based software development company.

In a phone interview from Chicago just one week after being crowned, Advani told an abbreviated version of her life journey, tied together by two common themes: open-mindedness and a willingness to seize the opportunities that life has put in her path.

Advani credits her openness and global mindset to her upbringing in Columbus, which she tells people is “like no other small town you’ve ever seen before.”

From a young age, Advani said, she was able to see life from a global perspective, learning about other cultures as early as first and second grade and having friends from all over the world.

And as she has gone through life, Advani has grabbed opportunities with both hands, she said.

That included being the first in her family to attend college, making a spontaneous decision to go to an open call with Elite Chicago when she was just finishing her degree and moving from Columbus to the heart of the Windy City.

She also pursued an equally big shift from modeling to a career in technology and then authoring her first book earlier this year.

Those actions are part of a mentality that Advani calls “running in heels,” she said, and it’s a mindset that is the focus of her book, titled “How to Run in Heels.”

The idea behind the mindset is that women can do what they want, whether that means having a high-powered business role, being a lawyer, making breakthroughs in science or staying at home as mothers, she said.

And all that can be done while embracing what it means to be a woman and realizing that “woman” and “weak” don’t have to be synonymous, Advani said.

It’s a mentality Advani lives out every day, especially at work, where she almost always is the only woman in the room, she said.

Women have a tendency to talk themselves out of things or underestimate their abilities, Advani said - and she approaches every day with the goal of not following that tendency.

“I don’t second-guess myself,” she said. “If an opportunity is in my path, I need to grab it with both hands and just do it.”

She takes the same approach to her new role, in which she brushes shoulders and exchanges ideas with diplomats, important politicians and world leaders on a daily basis, she said.

Advani encouraged other women to do the same, something she will continue doing through her platform as Miss United Nations USA.

“Always do your best. Always show up,” she said. “Always grab ahold of every opportunity if it seems right.”

Advani said she would give the same advice to the young people of Columbus. She urged them to “absorb it all” while they still can, reach out to others and keep an open mind.

“So many experiences will come into your life,” she said. “I had thought I would maybe go to law school. But I’ve really fallen in love with technology. I never would have known that if I hadn’t tried it on for size.”

The Columbus native also would encourage them to not be so fixated on getting out of the city, she said.

Advani said while she was dead set on getting out of her hometown, she looks back on that mentality now with the realization that Columbus is a special place like no other - and she’s been all over the world.


Information from: The Republic, https://www.therepublic.com/

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