In the midst of national conversations surrounding race and cultural acceptance, Miss University of Alabama at Birmingham 2018, Vishwadha Gunda, is championing a platform titled Strengthening Cultural Consciousness. Gunda’s platform aims to bring awareness and show appreciation for the multitude of cultures that make up American and international society.
As part of this effort, Gunda has launched a social media campaign that encourages UAB students and Birmingham community members to post 30-second videos displaying how they embrace their own culture and the culture of their peers.
“It’s critical that individuals embrace their own heritages,” said Gunda, a junior in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences studying philosophy. “As Miss UAB, I want to use my voice to help the nation become a strong and unified force toward breaking stereotypes.”
As a result of her childhood experiences, Gunda is particularly interested in helping children stay true to themselves and encouraging youth to spread knowledge about their cultures.
“I still remember when I was in eighth grade, my brother in third, and my mom asked him, ‘Why don’t you just wear your new sherwani for cultural day?’” said Gunda, a Montgomery, Alabama, native. “My brother responded ‘No way. I’ll look weird. All the kids at school will make fun of me.’ At only 8, my brother had conformed to negative societal standards. He was embarrassed to represent his culture, spread knowledge and be himself outside of the closed doors of our house. If the upcoming generation is not culturally conscious, then the following generations will face issues much worse than those that my brother and I faced.”
Participants of Miss UAB 2018’s campaign are being asked to use the hashtag #StrengtheningCulturalConsciousness and post their stories to Facebook and Instagram.
The awareness campaign takes place just weeks before she competes in the Miss Alabama Pageant, which will take place at 7 p.m. June 6-9 at Samford University. More information about Miss UAB 2018 and her platform is online.