Grateful: GCU student crowned Miss Teen USA

GCU freshman Faron Mehdi and her cat, Cheeto, relax in her campus apartment.

She wrote a book of alphabet affirmations for children, but Faron Medhi may have briefly forgotten her own first word – “A” is for amazing.

When it was announced that Medhi won Miss Teen USA on Saturday in Reno, Nevada, she thought the announcer’s call of Miss Idaho was for the winner, not runner-up. Medhi was then crowned.

“I was in shock. I kind of blanked out for a minute,” said the freshman Grand Canyon University biology major. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to win. My mentality was I was going to have fun and make friends with the girls.”

After hugging fellow contestants, she searched the crowd at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino to find her parents, Tom and Lynlee Medhi.

“They are the reason I am who I am,” she said. “They are both strong and caring of other people.”

Her father was born in India, making Medhi the first Indian American to win Miss Teen USA. She also said she is a rare Miss Nebraska Teen winner; her mother is the daughter of an eastern Nebraska farmer.

Faron Medhi will wear the crown of Miss Teen USA at numerous events throughout the year. (Photo courtesy of Steven Grant|Grantfoto)

“It is a part of my legacy I hope to leave this year. It’s amazing I am bringing more representation,” Medhi said this week, soon after returning to her campus apartment to reunite with her “fat, sassy and orange” cat, Cheeto.

Her mom first entered the Omaha, Nebraska, native in pageants at age 9, just for fun.

“At first, when I was a little girl, it made me feel so pretty on stage. But over time, I fell in love with its mission and being out in the community making a difference,” Medhi said. “Every girl is out advocating for a different thing.”

Medhi wants to help children – and came to GCU to continue that quest.

While reigning as Miss Nebraska Teen her senior year of high school, Medhi said she visited with more than 2,000 young people and out of that came the idea for her book, “I Am A-B-C: Alphabet Affirmations.”

“C” is for creative, after all.

“The power of affirmations is so strong. I really built my own self-esteem with them because I did struggle with self-esteem in middle school,” she said. “Social media is a big issue. Confidence needs to be talked about.”

Contestants went through phases of interviews and fashion displays, wearing elegant gowns, but Medhi said one judge told her it was her authentic manner that won the day.

“That meant the world to me,” she said. “That’s the most important thing, be yourself and hope your heart shines through.”

That big heart that led her to GCU. She became sold on the campus during a Discover GCU trip to campus for students interested in attending.

Faron Medhi (left) enjoys an event at GCU with her roommate, Abby Gruppen.

“I love the environment. Everyone seems so happy,” Medhi said. “My tour guide was saying hi to everyone. I also was impressed with all the opportunities to volunteer. I love everything the University stands for, especially out in the community.”

Medhi began her studies toward her goal of one day being a pediatrician, but first she went to several campus events and hung out with her roommates. The title will mean significant travel to public appearances across the country, but she wants to make time to join campus groups, such as the Hip Hop Club, because she is a talented dancer.

She also hopes to join mission trips through the GCU Honors College to make a positive impact in the world.

Media and TV shows often depict pageant contestants as “shallow women,” she said.

“But the women I met, I’ve never been in a room with smarter people in my life. The stereotype is to look at the women on surface levels, but in reality, they are down-to-earth authentic souls who want to make a difference in the community.”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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