Brains, beauty reign with student at Palmer Trinity

By Suzanne Gottlieb Calleja….

Sana Imam

Palmer Trinity senior Sana Imam — already named Senior Class president, president of the Indian Cultural Appreciation Club, vice president of National Honor Society, Thespians and the Center for Writing — added another title to her list of accomplishments: “Miss Indo-Caribbean Sapna (Dream) 2011.”

The “Miss Indo-Caribbean Sapna (Dream) 2011 Pageant,” which celebrates young women of Indian descent, took place on Jan. 29 at the Mela Room in Orlando.

Imam always dreamed of walking the runway. However, it wasn’t until she visited a local Indian festival with her family that her dream started to become a reality — as the owner of the “Miss Mastana Pageant” offered her a spot in next year’s competition. Excited by the opportunity, Imam knew she would need more practice.

“I had never done a pageant before, and wanted to know what it was like,” she said of her pageant experience. Finding the “Miss Indo-Caribbean Sapna 2011 Pageant” online, she registered, and before she knew it, Imam was preparing for the big day.

During the event, 20 young women, ages 13-24, competed for the Junior and Senior titles of “Miss Indo-Caribbean Sapna 2011” through a series of three rounds — Indian wear, talent, and evening gown. A succeeding final round — reserved for the top five contestants at the conclusion of the third round — would include current events questions with issues pertaining to the economy, cyber-bullying, and women’s rights.

For the talent portion, Imam performed a hip-hop Bollywood fusion dance routine, and after the third round, she was awarded “Miss Academic” for her impressive GPA and top class rank. After the final round, Imam was surprised to learn that she had been chosen as part of a three-way tie for first place. “I hadn’t attended any of the bi-weekly practices like my competitors had,” she said. “Making ‘top three’ was already a proud moment for me.”

Only one remaining question could determine the winner: “If you were to win the title of ‘Miss Indo-Caribbean Sapna 2011’ tonight, what would you do for your community?”

With the following answer, this Palmer Trinity student sealed the deal: “If I were to win tonight, then I would try to inspire the youth of my community. I want to help them understand that, as long as you have a passion for something, and are motivated, dedicated, and a hard worker, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your background is, or what your financial status is. As long as you have the passion to achieve something, you have the world in your hands,” she told the judges.

“I’m proud to have been a part of this experience because I believe that embracing your background is an important part of who you are,” Imam said.

With a mother from Guyana and a father from India, Imam believes she has the best of three worlds: a life in America with cultural ideals stemming from the nationalities of both her parents. At Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay this diversity is celebrated.

“I am proud of who I am,” Imam said. “Participating in this pageant was a great opportunity for me to showcase my diversity.”

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