Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Meet Jacqueline Bhagavan

Jacqueline Bhagavan - Mrs California-America
Jacqueline Bhagavan has just been crowned Mrs California-America and talks here of her roots in Cambodia and what the beauty pageant title represents. You can find out more about her at She's been involved in numerous charities and advocates for cancer research and empowering women. As hostess of Complexion Kitchen on YouTube, she supports a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.

Q. Where were you born? A. I was born in Pailin, Cambodia.
Q. What are your earliest memories from childhood? A. My early memories have been of struggles, poverty, having to escape my birth country, and finally finding peace in America. Luckily, my parents have made it very palpable for us, giving us unconditional love that made the pain and struggles we experienced as children pale in comparison.
Q. How old were you came to America? A. I was 6 years old. We settled in Houston, Texas.
Q. What were your struggles as a child seeking refuge in America? A. My family and I came to America, like all Khmer refugees, settling in the new homeland, and facing many obstacles with the new language and culture. My father had to find odd jobs to support a family of nine. He and my mother had seven children to take care of and they both worked hard to insure we got the right education to step out from the poverty. 
Q. What are the greatest obstacles you have overcome in your life and how have they shaped you? A. As a child, I had a few set backs with my physical growth and emotional drama.  I was malnourished and had observed such trauma in my life. During our escape, my parents hired two personal guides to help us reach the Thai border. There, I witnessed one of the guides not only rob us and spare our lives, but he took the life of his partner, shot him in broad day light. Although, these blockages and life's suffering did not deter me from having courage and finding my purpose. The malnourishment I experienced as a child prevented me from having hair growth until I was six years old. I also had to play catch up in my ability to process the aptitude needed for school. All of these delayed mental and physical developments did not prevent from becoming successful. I was always a fighter, a go-getter even as a child. Once we got to America and settled, eventually I caught up with other students, and was given an IQ test.  Overnight, I was admitted to the gifted program called G.A.T.E. (Gifted And Talented Education), and my intellectual capacity was unstoppable. Even today, I never make an excuse for why I can't be successful. I stayed focused, endured, I was persistent and  determined to be a success!
Q. Who are your role models? A. My mother and father are my role models. They instilled in me and my siblings the golden values of education, compassion, love, charity and service to others.
Q. What inspired you to pursue the Mrs. California America crown? A. It has always been a dream of mine to be Mrs. California-America as a way to help the American family because this country has generously given so much to me and my family. Family is my top priority. As Mrs. California-America I want to share with married women the importance of taking care of yourself and your family even on a budget with limited time. I have personal experience in what takes to pull a family out of poverty and how important community help can be. I personally believe that anyone given the right education, skills and opportunity deserves an opportunity to succeed. It's important for me to share with others my message of inner beauty, strength, compassion and to never give up on your dreams.
Q. What thoughts did you have in that crowning moment? A. It was a proud moment for me to be crowned Mrs. California-America.  I did not realized I was a winner until I felt the crown on my head.
Q. What values are you most passionate about promoting as Mrs California America? A. The values of family and being together is what I'm promoting.  Also I want to share with married women the importance of taking care of themselves and their family on a budget and with limited time.  Additionally, as a YouTube host of the web show "Complexion Kitchen", I want share with busy moms and women my tips and recipes for cooking healthy meals for their families and helping them be their best, inside and out.
Q. What is your definition of beauty? A. I think true beauty is not only of the physical aspect, but it is much deeper in the soul, your spirit.
Q. How do you view your new responsibility of being a role model? A. I think being a role model is a huge responsibility, one cannot take that role lightly. I think the best role models are your life line circle- your family.
Q. Of what accomplishments are you most proud? A. I am a family woman, and family is my priority above all else. My husband and I work hard to create the foundation of love for our children; this accomplishment is one I am very proud of. In addition to being a mother, creating a show that helps the modern mother.
Q. What Cambodian values have helped you achieve the American dream? A. My parents always stress on having a great education, and that knowledge is not fleeting. Your possessions can be removed and taken away, but not your knowledge. Another value is being honest and having integrity. If you are honest with your intentions, you create a reality that is real and pure. Be true, be real and honest with what you can and cannot do, and coupling that with hard work and humility.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow their dreams as you have? A. Be you, be real, be honest, take risks, have courage (be fearless) and never undermine your integrity. Work hard and have a vision as to why you really want to compete or go for what you are seeking.

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