Saaya Patel is a competitive dancer, a serious student, and a drummer. She also volunteers at a memory care facility and also has started a literacy program where children can read to their dogs with the goal of improving their reading skills and providing the dogs with loving attention. She's ten years old. Now, to add to her already long resume, she is a pageant winner. 

Saaya has been competing in the National American Miss pageant for the last three years. There are different portions of the pageant which Saaya had to prepare for. These include the interview portion, in which participants deliver a speech on stage. The participants then are interviewed. Third, the participants take to the stage for the formal wear portion of the day. Finally, there's the community service aspect. In addition to the four required components, Saaya also competed in the casualwear, talent, and top model divisions. 

Saaya's mother, Kirti, says that the most rewarding part of the process has been the connections that Saaya has made with her fellow participants. 

"She gets to make a lot of friends from all across Virginia. We've been seeing a lot of these girls come every year, building a friendship and bond. They can expect to see each other. They're excited to see the friends that they've made. The experience of spending time with these girls...is rewarding. They get to learn about each other, and learn different skills." 

In addition to the positive social components, Kirti says that the pageants help her daughter and the other participants to build strong life skills. 

"She learns how to do an interview, and talk to people. The eye contact, what to do in interviews, those are lifelong skills that she's learning. She's also learning public speaking. She's talking to a room full of hundreds of people out in the audience. She's learning public speaking, she's learning to be more comfortable on the stage, how to interact with the audience. These are skills she can use at school, in college, job interviews. It allows her to be more outgoing. She used to be shy." 

Saaya and her mother say that her favorite part of the competition is the interview portion. 

"She likes to talk. She likes to tell people about what she's doing and what she's all about and probably formalwear. She's a performer. She likes to be on the stage." 

Kirti says that parents or children considering the pageant world should do their research and reach out to people who are involved. 

"There's a ton of information online. There's so many different pageant systems, it's hard to know which are good. I like national american miss, it's because it's very family oriented. You see a lot of families there, basically I would tell them to seek out other people who have participated in pageants and talk to them. Don't believe everything you see on line about parents. There are scholastic pageant, scholarship pageants, where you can learn money for college."

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