Mrs. Washington America: A First!
Ep. 106 - Visualize yourself standing on the stage, wondering who will be crowned, and then . . . they call your name. Neelam Chahlia tells us what it is like to win Mrs. Washington America and then to go on to the nationals. She created history by being the first Indian-American woman to win the state title and the first woman of Indian origin to be at the nationals, Mrs. America. Her role represented hope and the symbol of equality for all women of all color and ethnicities. She is proud that a woman of color, an immigrant can represent a US state. As a first generation American, she has melded both cultures. Being a member of a military family, she was exposed not only to various regions She has met people all over the world and considers herself a global citizen. She has earned her Doctorate degree and received awards for her healthcare research findings.
- Having a grateful heart that knows how to give back to the community
- The differences between India and American culture and values
- The power of educated women and how to use education to help others reach their dreams
- The importance of human connection and being present at the moment with the people in your life
- The best strategies to fundraise money to help support community causes
- How to take care of yourself as a mother both physically and mentally
Listen in to learn how Neelam views education on a high pedestal and is willing to do everything in her power to help educate children as they pursue their dreams.
"Our world needs more kind-hearted people than more successful people. It's just a matter of drawing the attention towards the causes that need immediate concern."
As a first-generation American coming from a middle-class family and a very small town where opportunities were limited especially for women, she received a gold medal for her master's degree from the then President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam. She is the first Ph.D. in her extended family and received a full scholarship based on merit. She received the prestigious National Young Scientists Award for her Ph.D. dissertation and healthcare research findings.
She started a "strength in motherhood" program where moms can support one another. She had a difficult pregnancy but instead of giving in to despair, she has devoted her time as a patient advocate helping families deal with the realities of their unborn child. She traveled internationally to work on her "Girl Child initiative." She has distributed school supplies for the whole year to five primary and middle schools in India, so the education of children is not restricted.
As Mrs. Washington, Dr. Chahlia is raising awareness about drug abuse on young people through Victoria Siegel Foundation and to develop programs for women that aid them in regaining their physical and emotional strength post-pregnancy. Neelam is working with the top employers in Washington including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Boeing, and Starbucks to match employee donations to the Victoria Siegel foundation. Her goal is to leave a legacy of continued financial support for the Victoria Siegel foundation.
Learn the importance of forming a human connection with your family and the community at large, especially during this pandemic.
[4:20] Neelam describes how her childhood in India with the support of her parents led her to be who she is today
[5:35] She explains the differences between India and America's social classes, culture, and resources
[8:00] The importance of education in Neelam's life and how it has opened more opportunities
[9:33] How the Victoria Siegel organization helps fight drug abuse and overdose among young people
[10:39] How her title as Mrs. America Washington has allowed her to be heard and hence be able to solve problems
[15:35] Neelam explains how and why she helped fundraise for the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue
[17:00] How to educate and positively influence people to contribute towards social causes
[19:59] She describes how she traveled to India before the pandemic through the girl child initiative to help with education for all children
[22:46] Why being a mother is her biggest success story
[26:06] How she takes care of herself physically and mentally to be healthy for her children and the community
[27:35] She describes the characteristics of a good leader and what she hopes for the future in the current environment
[29:07] She advises young people to seek individuality and independence as they pursue education