Harnaaz Sandhu of India was crowned as the 70th Miss Universe on Sunday, topping a field of some 80 contestants in a pageant that was touched by politics and the pandemic. The former reigning Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, crowned the 21-year-old. She is the third Indian to win the coveted title — after Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.
The Miss Universe 2021 has studied in Shivalik Public School, Chandigarh, scoring 8 CGPA in CBSE board exams in 2015. “True to the motto of the school, ‘Victory with Determination’ she persevered to achieve great heights at the global level and Harnaaz’s feat has made us all proud. She was a regular and hardworking student,” said the school’s principal, Gurkiran Jeet Nalwa.
No one in school at that time thought that she will go on to walk the road less travelled and create history by putting India on the world map,” Nalwa added.
“Harnaaz regularly participated in co-curricular activities in the school and was passionate about music and dance but she was always a quiet child. Her brother also studied in our school and her parents regularly visited the school to keep track of their performance. She was a part of the music choir. While she was in school, I could never visualise her taking up the route of achieving the crown. Teenage years are the formative ones and she was always disciplined. Now, that we reminisce about the past, she always had the traits of a performer,” Nalwa told indianexpress.com.
Harnaaz completed her graduation in Information and Technology (IT) from the Postgraduate Government College (PGC) for Girls, Sector-42, Chandigarh. She is presently pursuing MA in Public Administration from the same institute.
“A diligent and sincere student, her inclination has always been towards theatre. She has won many laurels in mimicry and skit competitions in youth festivals. The institute never had to accommodate any special provisions because of her participation in these pageants. Despite having to travel to different places, she has been attending online classes amid the pandemic. Besides, the department professors are always in touch with her,” Nisha Aggarwal, principal of the college, told indianexpress.com.
Harnaaz will soon be seen playing a lead role in a Punjabi movie, which is set to release soon.
Aggarwal also believes that motivating young individuals to pursue their dreams is an important role that all educational institutes should play. “While modelling and beauty pageants have not been the traditionally accepted career choices in Indian society, alma maters must celebrate the achievers’ hard work so that more students get the confidence to follow their passion,” she added.
Harnaaz’s achievements include Miss Fresh Face in 2017, Miss India World -2020 (Top 20 finalists), Miss India Universe, Times Fresh Face 2017 Miss Chandigarh-winner, Miss Max Emerging Star 2018, finalist from Chandigarh in Miss Diva India 2018, Fabb Colours Femina Miss India Punjab 2019.