Saloni Agarwal, the winning moment. (Photos: GKS, Gurkiret Singh)

Saloni Agarwal talks about her unlikely journey from a Microbiology grad to becoming the 2017 Gladrags Miss Punjab.

Hailing from the beautiful city of Chandigarh, Punjab, and schooled from Sacred Heart Senior Secondary school, Chandigarh, I recently graduated from Panjab University. I am an enthusiast and the list of hobbies is quite long – calligraphy, drawing, craft, dancing, sports (golf, cricket, others), writing about things I have learnt and incidents that inspire me, helping people out, and of course wandering off to new places and learning new cultures.

I have always had a love for camera. My mother has made me who I am today, she wanted this for herself but she opened the gates for me to accomplish her dream. From the day I could walk, she took me to children fashion competitions where I have won titles.

My parents put me into many extra-curricular activities which gave me a wide horizon to know my abilities and choose my future. Never a pressure to secure good grades but just to my ability, even if it was a 100%. I was never made to believe something, I am allowed to think according to my understanding and believe what I find is right. The free atmosphere has made me grow completely as a person, personally and socially.

Saloni during a rehearsal for the final event.

There was a phase when I stopped doing any competitions or even think about fashion industry and focused on completing school but as soon as I entered college, I was given loads of opportunity to do shows for many student designers and even inter-college competitions, where again, our team won the 1st prize.

This was a kick start of sorts to doing something more in the fashion industry, and I started following all possible inroads.

Gladrags was one of my top choices because of Mrs. Maureen Wadia. She is a true inspiration to women who want to make a mark for themselves, by giving proper guidance and nurturing them in the best way possible.

My family has been supportive always in whatever I want to do. In my last semester of graduation, I auditioned for the contest in Chandigarh, April 16, and I received a call soon after. I was selected for the zonal round and on the final day, May 8, I cleared the zonal and received the title of Gladrags Megamodel north zone pageant winner, Miss Punjab.

Saloni Agarwal.

The judges panel included Maureen Wadia, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, and Matt Henry. It was truly an honor and unimaginably heartwarming.

There were two rounds, the first, introducing ourselves and the second, Q&A. I was on cloud nine and I could see my parents and family feeling proud with smiles and teary eyes when I was announced the winner. I received a gift hamper from Bombay Dyeing and roundtrip air tickets to Mumbai via Delhi.

This is a first milestone for me. I look forward to winning the crown and bringing it home. This is a big opportunity and a big responsibility as well. I am very excited and enthusiastic to move forward in the competition. The date of the final competition is not decided yet but whenever it is, my priority would be focusing on winning it.

Saloni Agarwal (r) with Gladrags Mrs India Punjab winner Marisha Kaul (l), Maureen Wadia, and Manhunt North India pageant winner Rishabh Thakur (partially seen).

It means a lot to my mom. This would be just for her. I believe in my confidence and I also know my flaws. I will work hard and give it my best.

The glamor and lights are very tempting, but I have decided to complete my education first, and then if time allows, I would join the industry.