CECIL Hills resident Prasanthi Purushothaman was a state finalist at the recent Miss India Australia pageant.
She also won the Best Talent Sub Title of the competition and attended a Face the Camera workshop run by celebrity Bollywood photographer and pageant founder Raj Suri.
"I've never entered a pageant before — it just felt like a really good time to enter," Miss Purushothaman said.
"Growing up in Australia has taught me there's strength in diversity and sacrificing your culture is not necessary to integrate into this society. My two worlds can co-exist.
"I think pageants have a bad reputation among a lot of people with the women having nothing to vouch for other than their beauty.
"These days I feel like organisations such as the team behind Miss India Australia are moving towards looking at more of the whole person and challenging this perception."
The 21-year-old said the pageant wanted real, strong and beautiful women who were not limited to their exteriors.
"Miss India Australia is such an amazing platform that catered to me so perfectly.
"It was more culturally astute to mixed background women like myself and focused on our personalities, our motivations and our talents.
"I liked that it represented these ideas."
Miss Purushothaman is in the final year of studying for a bachelor of medicine/surgery degree at the University of Western Sydney.
"I've always fragmented myself into two parts; one that was very academically driven, focused and interested in medicine and the other a bit of a daydreamer, lost in this world of fashion, entertainment and the arts.
"So I decided to challenge myself, and society's preconceived ideas, and just enter this competition.
"In my mind there was no reason why my career choice should impede an interest in a completely different area."