Contestants from around the world sashayed and showed off their swagger in The University of Tulsa’s Mr. and Ms. International Pageant hosted by the Student Association and the SA Department of Diversity and Educational Programming on Feb. 19, 2020. International students represented their home countries in talent, fashion and question segments.
The top winners of the night were Namera Newaz and Ellis Brown who were crowned and awarded a cash prize.
Newaz, a psychology major, was born in Tulsa, but her family is from Bangladesh.
“While growing up in America, it can be easy to lose your cultural roots,” she explained. She loves showcasing her traditional dress, the flavors of the food and her family traditions.
When she was 5 years old, her mother enrolled her in an Indian dance academy where she trained for more than 15 years. One of her favorite things about TU is the diversity. “Most of my friends are international students. People automatically assume students at TU are from Tulsa and that’s not the case,” she said.
According to U.S. News & World Report, TU’s international student population — 14% of the entire student body — is the 14th highest among other U.S. universities. The number of multicultural students enrolled at TU also has steadily increased in recent years.
Computer information student Ellis Brown displayed his talents of photography at the competition. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but moved to Ghana until he started attending TU, enrolling just days before the semester started.
His interests in cameras and photography began while he was in high school; he wanted to be a YouTube star. He saved up for a new camera and was sought out by classmates to be their photographer. He plans to purchase a new camera with his prize money.
Pageant contestants included Ellis Brown, Ghana; Caroline Deal, United States; Elijah Tenkeh, Cameroon; Namera Newaz, Bangladesh; Linda Li, China; Mario Pinto, Angola; and Daesung Kim, South Korea.
Talents, fashion and interviews were judged by Amanda Chastang, director of multicultural affairs, Angus Lamar, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Hema Ramsurn, assistant professor of chemical engineering; and audience members.