Nina Davuluri Becomes First Miss America of Indian Heritage

Nina Davuluri

Mel Evans/AP

09/16/2013 AT 2:00 AM ET

Moments after winning the 2014 Miss America crown, Nina Davuluri described how delighted she is that the nearly century-old pageant sees beauty and talent of all kinds.

The 24-year-old Miss New York is the first contestant of Indian heritage to become Miss America; her talent routine was a Bollywood fusion dance.

“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” she said in a press conference after winning the crown in Atlantic City, N.J.’s Boardwalk Hall. “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”

Her pageant platform was “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.”

The native of Syracuse, N.Y. wants to be a doctor, and is applying to medical school, with the help of a $50,000 scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.

She is the second consecutive Miss New York to win the Miss America crown, succeeding Mallory Hagan, who was selected in January when the pageant was still held in Las Vegas. The Miss America Organization will compensate Hagan for her shortened reign.

Davuluri’s victory led to some negative comments on Twitter from users upset that someone of Indian heritage had won the pageant. She brushed those aside.

“I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

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