Plymouth teen crowned Miss Teen MN International

As part of her platform for the Miss Teen Minnesota International pageant, Devika Narayan, a harp player, emphasized the importance of music therapy. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Wayzata High School sophomore Devika Narayan was recently crowned Miss Teen Minnesota International and will go on to represent the state at the international pageant in August.
As a member of both the high school debate and speech teams, Narayan found communication came really easily to her.

When she looked into the Miss Teen Minnesota International Pageant organization, Narayan found it to be a “cool opportunity” and was crowned in February as Miss Teen Hennepin County.
“I sort of fell in love with the idea of representing my community in a way that really shows what it’s made of and I feel that pageants … really show the girl inside as well as the girl outside,” Narayan said.

Days before the state pageant, Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik presented Narayan with her banner as “a sign of community support.”
“It was really exciting because it’s someone who listens to the community and represents the whole community, so when she presented the banner to me, that was really important,” Narayan said.

What enticed Narayan about this specific organization was its emphasis on a girl’s community involvement, of which she does not fall short.
From 6 years old, Narayan has been an active volunteer through her Girl Scout troop, having received bronze and silver awards for their troop’s work with the Animal Humane Society and the Hope For Healing wall at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Seven years ago, Narayan’s love for rhythm and sound led her to learn how to play the harp.
“It’s so different from other instruments,” she said.

Now she is working on earning her Girl Scout Gold Award, which will focus on music therapy and making her harp music more accessible to the elderly, especially those experiencing early-onset memory loss.
“I really like connecting with people through music,” she said.

Music therapy has also contributed to her platform of spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Having played at various senior living and memory care communities across the Twin Cities, Narayan has seen the positive impact music on people. Being able to reach out to the elderly with her music is important to her, she said.

“That’s a really fun experience because you are able to connect with people in a way you aren’t normally able to,” Narayan said, noting communication is limited and sometimes nonexistent, depending on the severity of the person’s condition.

Playing for a person with memory loss, Narayan said, “You can see there is something that is happening on the inside that you see on the outside,” which can be as simple as a smile or a hand clap.

In August, Narayan will compete in West Virginia among teens from all over the world for the international title.

Prior to the Miss Teen Minnesota International, Mayor Kelli Slavik presented Devika Narayan with the banner as a sign of community support. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

With this title, she hopes to go on to win Miss Teen International and work with the pageant’s official charity, the American Heart Association’s GO RED FOR WOMEN campaign.
“I would love to work with them, because that would be another cool opportunity,” Narayan said.

She would also like to reach out to more communities with her music.

Beyond high school, Narayan aspires to attend an Ivy League school, following in the footsteps of her sister who is studying at Harvard and planning on becoming a medical doctor.

Through this title, she also hopes to reach out and inspire other young girls to reach for their dreams, noting it’s important girls and boys are encouraged to accomplish what they want in life.

With this event being her first pageant, “it showed that I was able to put the time and commitment in and I was able to get something I really appreciate now,” she said.

Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]