Rima Fakih Wins the Heart of America
By Ghana Harb Conord
June 14, 2010
Epitomizing the very essence of a beauty queen, stunning Rima Fakih, winner of the Miss USA 2010 pageant, is simply the perfect package of unique Mediterranean beauty, grace and brains. It’s no wonder then that she beat 50 other gorgeous women to the title!
When Fakih won the Miss USA title, she made history. Not only is she the very first Lebanese-American to be honored with this esteemed crown, but also the first Muslim and the first Arab-American.
Her resounding success in snagging the title of Miss Michigan in September 2009, and then the realization of the ultimate dream of being crowned Miss USA, garnered her much support and pride from the Arab-American community and from Lebanese around the world.
Fakih was born in Sour, Lebanon and immigrated to Queens, New York in 1993. Following her graduation from St. John’s Preparatory School in 2003 at the age of 17, she moved to Dearborn, Michigan and studied at the University of Michigan where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, with a minor in Business Administration.
Fakih took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Today’s Outlook about winning the Miss USA title, her plans to visit Lebanon and her inspirational message to young and aspiring beauty queens who someday hope to follow in her footsteps.
How do you feel about winning the Miss USA title, particularly being the first Arab-American to be crowned as Miss USA?
It feels great. I feel like this is a dream come true because I always dreamt of this, even when I was little. I feel happy and honored to win this title and I’m truly proud of all the wonderful feedback I’ve received from the Arab-American community. It’s been overwhelming.
Miss USA 2010- Rima Fakih
Have you had a lot of family support throughout your journey in beauty contests?
Yes, absolutely! It’s actually my mother who got me in all this trouble! Whenever I would watch beauty pageants and say that I wish I could participate, she would respond: ‘Why don’t you participate? You too can do that!’ So she always made me feel beautiful and smart and that there was no reason why I couldn’t compete and win. She was fully supportive. My family was always behind me.
Have the American people welcomed you with open arms?
Very much so! Everywhere I go people approach me, ask me for autographs, and tell me how happy they are for me and that they’re proud that I represent the United States. People have been truly wonderful and supportive.
What is the next goal you wish to accomplish?
My next step is to participate in the Miss Universe pageant which will take place on August 23rd in Las Vegas. My goal is to win the Miss Universe title, so I hope I will be able to accomplish that. My second goal is to enter law school at the end of my reign as Miss USA and to become a lawyer.
What will be the focus of your work during your reign?
I will be working to promote many causes, and I will specifically focus on increasing the awareness of breast and ovarian cancer.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done since winning the Miss USA title?
I’ve been very busy since assuming the position of Miss USA and have already done very exciting things, particularly meeting Mr. Donald Trump at his office in New York, and meeting the Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Saad Hariri, during his recent visit to the US. It was also very exciting to receive a formal invitation from the President of Lebanon, Mr. Michel Sleiman, to visit the country.
Do you speak Arabic?
Certainly! Akid Behke Arabi! I am fluent in Arabic and English, and I also speak a bit of Spanish.
Do you plan to visit Lebanon anytime soon?
I would love to visit Lebanon very soon, especially now that I have an official invitation from the President, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to do that. It all depends on my schedule as I have to prepare for the upcoming Miss Universe pageant.
You seem to be a positive person. Has this attribute helped you reach your goals?
I have a positive attitude towards life, and even in the middle of the pageant, in the midst of the competition, stress and pressure involved, I kept a positive attitude and focused on positive thinking. I like challenge and I’ve been able to face challenging tasks and goals in my life, so challenge keeps me going.
What’s your message to young girls who dream to be where you are today?
My message to young girls is to never let anyone take your dreams away from you, and don’t let anything get in the way of you realizing those dreams. Always follow your dreams and work hard to make them come true!
Following her interview with Today’s Outlook, Fakih rushed to catch a flight to Boston, where she was taking part in the Audi Best Buddies Challenge – an annual walk, run, and bike event benefiting the Best Buddies charity, dedicated to assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.