One could call Emmeline Ye’s first go at any kind of pageant a success.
The Midwestern University student, who is earning a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, recently traveled to San Francisco for the Miss Asian Global and Miss Asian America Pageant.
Despite it being his first pageant, she won two titles: Miss Asian Charity and Miss Asian STEM. The platform on which she based her campaign was the prevention of veterinary suicide.
But she didn’t always see herself as someone who would partake in something like a pageant.
“Growing up I was extremely shy; I would never be willing to get up on stage or perform,” Ye admitted. “My parents encourage me to do modeling, just because I am really tall. I refused because I was really shy.”
In 2018, her opinion about performing in front of crowds changed when she was approached by Dr. Francis Kong. Of all places to be asked, she was attending the San Diego Comic-Con International.
“I was dressed up as Wonder Woman,” said Ye, whose hometown is San Diego. “I was taking pictures with random people all day. Then this man introduced himself and began asking if I have and was willing to participate in pageants.”
After thinking about his offer, she decided to visit San Francisco, where the pageant was held. And when she arrived, she got to go backstage to help out the contestants. There she got her first taste of the world of pageantry.
“I got an inside look at Miss Asian Global last year. Then I decided I wanted to do it this year because it looked so cool and everyone was really inspiring,” she said.
As a nonprofit, the Miss Asian Global and Miss Asian America Pageant is hosted by the Miss Asian America Foundation, whose goal is to help empower Asian-American women and further their careers through networking opportunities, training and special events.
“The pageant is not only raising funds for the actual organization but to help empower the women that are participating,” Ye said. “The organization wants to help further their careers and further their goals.”
For the pageant, each contestant must select a platform in which they strongly believe. For Ye, it was prevention of veterinary suicide.
“It doesn’t seem like anybody really knows about this problem or is really doing anything to prevent it, except those in the veterinary community,” Ye said. “Even then, we are not really doing enough.”
Since she is working on becoming a veterinarian, she knows all about the pressures and factors that cause this high suicide rate. She wanted to do something about the problem at hand and help lower that rate.
“We need our veterinarians; our animals need them,” Ye said. “If you think about, everybody in the world needs them because we help take care of food supplies as well, which is an overlooked field area of veterinarian medicine.”
Despite this being her first time participating in a pageant, she received two titles.
To win Miss Asian Charity, she explained, it takes about three to four months of preparation. And criteria include raising the most money for the foundation that sponsors the pageant. Contestants must create a one-minute video in which they introduce themselves and their platform.
“They attach that to your donation page and it encourages people to donate to the foundation. You can use any social media or whatever networking you have to promote it,” she explained.
Ye ultimately topped the fundraising, generating $3,100 for that side of the organization.
And yet, when they called her name, she was in disbelief.
“When they called my name, it was a little bit surreal, I felt really shocked,” said Ye, who envisioned using her new title to benefit the veterinary community.
“I was on robot mode; I wasn’t really processing it.”
Ye’s second title, Miss Asian STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), is given to the leading or highest-achieving woman in that field.
“I had the highest STEM achievement among all of the other contestants,” Ye said. “I definitely enjoyed this one more and went off robot mode there; it was really nice.”
Choosing to study to be a veterinarian and in turn basing her pageant platform on that career path made sense for Ye, who has loved animals since she could say the word “dog” at a young age. She begged her parents for the longest time to adopt a dog.
“In the third grade I made a PowerPoint on why I should get a dog,” Ye said. “I checked a bunch of books from the library about how to take care of dogs. I presented it to my parents, and they still refused.”
Finally, at age 16, she received her first dog, who she named Coco. It was Coco who provide to be a big inspiration for her foray into the veterinary field.
She wasn’t always set on being a veterinarian, however. When she started her undergraduate degree at the University of California San Diego, she accepted a prestigious internship in China at a large, international bank. But that internship steered her to her interest in animals.
“I did not like finance or economics. I didn’t want to be stuck in a cubical all day,” Ye said. “I decided to purse veterinary medicine, which was a complete 180.”
She came back to the states and changed her major to biology, which caused her to graduate a year and a half late. She then spent 16 months working for different veterinary clinics while she applied to vet school. At last, she was accepted by Midwest University.
Thus far, she feels her time at Midwestern has grown her knowledge abundantly from when she entered college. But there’s still a ways to go.
“I still have so far to go just because you don’t really know until you start doing it,” Ye admitted.
“That is how it is with the medical field; you learn all this stuff in class but you don’t internalize it until you go out and do it.”
As of late, Ye feels there hasn’t been a strong female Asian role model in the veterinary community. To her, the last one was Dr. Sophia Yin.
Now having won two Miss Asian titles, and still pursuing her studies, Ye hopes to be that leader.
“She (Yin) was a very prominent veterinarian behaviorist. Unfortunately, she committed suicide,” Ye said. “If possible, I want to be that strong Asian female role model for the veterinarian community.”
To find out more about Ye, call 1-858-740-7498 or find her on Instagram @xemmradio. She is currently looking for community events and small businesses that could benefit from an appearance from Miss Asian Charity and STEM.