National pride rules competition
Posted March 20, 2009
Sherezad Shaikh

Fatima Suarez represents Egypt in the Mr. and Ms. International Contest by mummifying audience member Stephanie Fuentes. The contest took place on March 11 in Founders Auditorium

Marla Bahloul
Staff Writer

The popular Mr. and Ms. International event was held for the first time on at 10 p.m. on March 11 in Founders Auditorium.

The attraction gave students the opportunity to compete against each other, by representing a country of their choice.

The event was hosted by Dionna Houston, who introduced the four contestants.

Houston is a senior radio broadcast major.

Jon Smith, senior journalism major represented the United States; Riddhi Dhruv, a sophomore international business and language major, represented India; Fatima Suarez, a sophomore criminology major represented Egypt; and Jonathan S. Elias, a sophomore history and philosophy major, represented El Salvador.

The contestants had to dress in attire and perform a talent relevant to the country they represented, and then face a panel of judges who asked participants a number of different questions about their country.

Smith, the Mr. International winner, began the night with a speech.

He focused mainly on the United States’ immense diversity, and how it is reflected at the University of La Verne.

“Change starts within itself. Be the change you want to see in the world,” Smith said.

Immediately after, Smith began his portion of the talent section by singing Michael Jackson’s, “Man in the Mirror.”

Dhruv, the Ms. International, said her direct cultural connection to India contributed greatly to her desire to participate.

Dhruv performed a traditional dance in the talent portion.

“One thing that I find very special is that India is one of the only third-world countries concerned with education,” Dhruv said. “India is always willing to work (with the United States) for progress.”

Suarez, though not Egyptian, felt a cultural bond great enough to represent Egypt.

Fortunate enough to visit the country during the 2009 January interterm, Suarez was enthusiastic to represent a country she recently developed a relationship with.

In the talent portion she mummified a member of the audience.

She wrapped Stephanie Fuentes, a junior sociology major, from head to toe in toilet paper.

“I figured, why don’t we make this an interactive talent?” Suarez said.

“Since this is what Egypt is mostly known for, why not show you ladies and gentlemen the process of mummification?” Suarez said.

Elias spoke of his direct connection to El Salvador, stating that he is constantly interacting with family members abroad.

He followed his speech with a Cumbia dance, which is popular in El Salvador.

“As Mr. International, I would bring diversity and advocacy for teaching about different cultures,” Elias said. “I know the culture and the people very well.”

All contestants were applauded for their efforts.

Dhruv won a $100 gift card and Smith won a $50 gift card.

Marla Bahloul can be reached at

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