Her crowning glory: Chhavi Verg runner-up as Miss USA

The top 10 finalists compete in the evening gown competition at the 2017 Miss USA pageant at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14. From left, Miss Alaska USA 2017 Alyssa London, Miss Illinois USA 2017 Whitney Wandland, Miss New York USA 2017 Hannah Lopa, Miss South Carolina USA 2017 Megan Gordon, Miss District of Columbia USA 2017 Kara McCullough, Miss California USA 2017 India Williams, Miss Tennessee USA 2017 Miss Allee-Sutton Hethcoat, Miss Missouri USA 2017 Bayleigh Dayton, Miss New Jersey USA 2017 Chhavi Verg and Miss Minnesota USA 2017 Meridith Gould.

Chhavi Verg has proven yet again that perseverance and determination are the keys to success. On May 14, Verg, 20, who won the Miss New Jersey title last October, became first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, which was won by Miss D.C., Kara McCullough.

The Edison, New Jersey, woman’s father, Ravi Verg, told India Abroad he believed the decision would make his daughter stronger and more determined. Verg herself concurred.

“Winning on such a platform as [the] Miss USA pageant not only earns fame and recognition but also a voice to speak about the causes that I believe in and the things that I want to do in my life,” she said.

Challenge and hard work is something Verg is familiar with. She won the Miss USA New Jersey contest last year after three attempts. But her previous two losses, she said, taught her where her strengths lie and how important it is to have a platform to advocate for what she believes in.

“I was very upset,” she said, recalling her first loss for Miss USA New Jersey pageant, after she had been fourth runner-up in the Miss New Jersey Teen USA as a high school senior in Edison.

“Since I did well the first time without any coaching or experience, going in to the adult pageant, I thought: I’ve got this. I’ll totally do well. And when I didn’t, it shocked me,” she said, On May 14, Verg had several supporters, both at the venue at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and on social media.

On Twitter, many seemed to be rooting for Verg to take the title, especially after McCullough, a scientist, referred to healthcare as a privilege, not a right. When asked if she considers herself a feminist, McCullough said she doesn’t like to use the word.

Verg, however, drew praise for her answer when she was asked if she considers herself a feminist. “Feminism is striving for equality and I do consider myself a feminist. I think it’s a misconception when people believe that feminism is women being better than men. But it’s really not. It’s a fight for equality,” she said.

Speaking to the Daily Targum, Rutgers University’s student paper, Verg said she believed in the power of five P’s — Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance — something she learned at Rutgers Business School.

Verg, who is studying marketing and Spanish at Rutgers University, competed against 50 other women in the pageant, which until 2015 was owned by Donald Trump. It is now owned by William Morris Endeavor.

At Rutgers, Verg is also a marketing assistant-director in the Rutgers University Programming Association, and is involved in Women BUILD, a group that helps prepare women leaders in business.

Born in India, Verg came to the U.S. at 4. She loves visiting India regularly to see her grandparents and the extended family. She enjoys dancing, public speaking, learning languages and is committed to fitness and health.

Verg is an ISSA certified personal trainer and hopes that through her certification, she can urge others to take better care of themselves both physically and mentally.

“Authentic, zealous and amiable” were the three words she used to describe herself. She also considers herself a strong proponent of female empowerment through education. Besides her plans to work towards promoting women’s education and preventing child abuse, she wants to own a business in the health and fitness or beauty industry.

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