New Miss America Nina Davuluri says she will "rise above" racist Internet comments that followed her crowning Sunday as the pageant's first Indian-American winner.
"I always viewed myself as first and foremost American," the ascendant Miss New York said in a post-pageant news conference, according to The Associated Press. Born in Syracuse, Davuluri, 24, lived in Oklahoma and Michigan until six years ago, when her family moved to the Syracuse suburb of Fayetteville.
"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," she added. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."
Many negative comments on Twitter and elsewhere on social media conflated her Indian heritage with a Middle Eastern background.
Davuluri graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, according to The Post-Standard of Syracuse, and plans to become a physician, following in the footsteps of her obstetrician-gynecologist father.
Davuluri weathered a brief controversy over the weekend after allegations arose that she called outgoing Miss America Mallory Hagan, a former Miss New York, fat in July. Davuluri denied the allegation, and pageant officials said there was no truth to the story.
Wednesday, she'll meet former Miss America and fellow New York native Vanessa Williams and see "The Trip To Bountiful," in which Williams appears, The Associated Press reports. Williams became the first black Miss America in 1983 but resigned after nude photos of her surfaced, and Penthouse published them.