After much stress, hard work and dedication this past month, Miss Orange County USA just wants to relax.
Shally Zomorodi, a 23-year-old senior at Cal State Fullerton, was crowned on Feb. 25 at the Four Points Sheraton in Fullerton.
Although this was not her first beauty pageant competition, it was Zomorodi’s most challenging and stressful time in her life.
“It was very overwhelming,” she said. “But it was a good test. I learned how to balance my time.”
Zomorodi will be graduating in May with the double major of broadcast journalism and political science.
With more visible support than any other contestant, 59 family and friends showed up to the competition, while 15 of them were her club friends from the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society.
Last year, Zomorodi and nine other political science students discovered that a professor once dropped the society two years ago. They immediately found an adviser, and she has been vice president since the society’s rebirth.
“Shally’s very passionate about her work,” said Young Kim, president of Pi Sigma Alpha. “She never gives up on something, because she knows she has the power to do it.”
The 22-year-old political science major stated that Zomorodi’s good communication skills were important to her winning first place in all three categories. She went home with awards for Miss Congeniality, Miss Personality and Miss Orange County.
Zomorodi first entered a beauty pageant when she was 17 years old. She was working at a cookie shop when she noticed an advertisement about the Miss California State Preliminary. She entered for fun and won second runner-up.
This time around, the more mature and politically-driven Zomorodi wanted a challenge. She was already working 40 hours as a waitress, taking between 18 and 24 units a semester, training a young teenage cheer group into first place regional champions, and was vice president of Pi Sigma Alpha.
“Shally motivates me,” said Bruce Entezam, 24, her boyfriend of two years. “She makes me reach for my goals better and faster.”
Zomorodi admits that being in a pageant and trying to balance her schedule has left minimal time for them to spend together, especially since Entezam is a recent graduate from the UC Irvine. Their relationship was divided between schools and towns. But despite their relationship strain, Entezam is complimentary of Zomorodi’s traits, believing her to be “confident and ambitious about life.”
Another challenge that Zomorodi set for herself was to lose weight. The competition did not force its required taste for a slim image, but it motivated Zomorodi to lose about 25 pounds. She said that she was the heaviest and shortest girl in the pageant, and still won first place.
“It’s an opinion of five people and then you move on,” Zomorodi said about the chance she might have not won.
Zomorodi feels that her experience was very interesting and well worth her time and effort. About four months, ago she decided to start eating healthy and dedicated time to working out at the gym. The timely event motivated her to not give up. While other girls in the pageant were solely focused on winning the sash and crown because of its prestige, Zomorodi just wanted to have some fun.
“Every female has issues with weight because of the media,” Tania Cardona, 22, said. “She eats fine, goes to the gym and enjoys looking her best.”
Cardona is the Pi Sigma Alpha Events Coordinator. A political science and criminal justice major, she is also Zomorodi’s close friend and classmate. Cardona said that education is most important to Zomorodi right now, even though the pageant is her most recent accomplishment.
“She values education, and the pageant was just a forum for her to speak her mind,” Cardona said.
Zomorodi envisions a future for herself revolving around politics and justice. She plans to become a Supreme Court Justice, because the challenge in being the first Persian-American woman with a black robe, gavel and power in hand is attractive.
In a recent three-day trip to Sacramento with her campaign class this semester, Zomorodi was able to speak with state politicians, like State Assembly District member Paul Koretz.
The theme in her class, taught by Dr. Barbara Stone, is based on a mock campaign. The candidate is Zomorodi and her classmates have to create marketing techniques to promote her as a politician.
For the project, the laws that she is trying to get approved are banishing the use of cell phones while driving and putting children with drug problems in rehabilitation centers instead of juvenile hall.
In being the center of attention for an academic class, Zomorodi perceives she is not always treated with respect. Along with the difficulty in being the subject of a course and important to the determination of students’ grades, she can tell that both males and females begrudge her role against her.
Raphael Sonenshine, her political science adviser, described Zomorodi as “an excellent student and a very good organizer.” He said that because of her leadership quality, she doesn’t need much counseling.
In September, Zomorodi will compete in the official preliminary Miss California USA pageant. In the meantime, her focus is on midterms, committing time to her political science classes and exercising four to five times a week.
But Zomorodi’s passion for long hours of sleep is, of course, her first priority.
I was born in Chico, California and spent most of my life in California. I have two amazing parents who have been married for more than 30 years and have taught me to love and reach for the stars. Being the first generation in my family to be raised in the United States my parents always supported me in pursuing goals that most people would say are impossible. My father, Mostafa Zomorodi, is a talented musician and inspired my two younger brothers, Arash and Aryaz, to learn how to play the zarb. I never learned how to play the instruments but instead learned how to bellydance when I was just four years old. You can imagine what our family gatherings are like. I am married to an amazing man and my best friend, Behrooz Entezam. We live in San Clemente, California with our two dogs.
SS: How did you become a beauty queen?
SZ: I became in involved in beauty pageants when I was 16. Growing up in Orange County I was surrounded by people who did not look like me. I was not the most popular girl in school. My dark hair, big eyes and full eyebrows alienated me from the 'normal' crowd. I look back now and understand that I turned to pageants as a way to show the my peers that beauty comes in many different shapes, color and sizes. I placed in the finals or won every title I competed for giving me the platform to show beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Among my titles--Miss Orange County Teen USA, Miss Orange County USA and just recently Mrs. California Globe. Ironically, beauty pageants opened the door to the television broadcasting field. I won an journalism award from the producers of FOX/ Good day LA in Los Angeles and the rest is history.
SS: How did you arrive at being a news person?
SZ: I graduated from the California State University of -Fullerton with a double major in communications and political science. At a very young age I knew I wanted to be involved in the field of news broadcasting but was swayed not to pursue the field while in college because most people told me it was impossible to make it. I believed them and headed to law school. Three months into the first year of law school my life changed. I returned to the television-broadcasting field and decided I would not turn back.
SS: Tell us about Orange County and the Iranian community there.
SZ: You mean Tehrangeles? It's amazing. I have not been to Iran in 26 years. Despite that fact, I have managed to hold on to my Persian roots because of the saturation of the Persian culture here in Orange County. I can pull up to dozens of stores and restaurants and order my favorite persian dish or sink my teeth into warm and soft Sangak Bread. Every weekend, talented DJ takes over the American bars and restaurants and turns it into an international night. Such an honor to see Americans dancing to Persian music. Iranians are running for political office in Orange County. They are CEO's to large companies. There has yet been a day that I go out and dont hear someone speaking in Farsi. Its kind of funny. We have to be very careful about talking smack. There is always someone in the vicinity that can understand Farsi. The Iranians have contributed a great deal to the Southern California community and I am honored to be a part of them.
SS: What do you do now and what are you future ambitions and wishes?
SZ: I get up every morning at 3am to anchor and host a newscast that broadcasts in Southern California. Daybreak OC is a two-hour live show featuring news, weather, traffic and feature. I work with a very talented team of people and live my dream everyday. My next goal is to anchor and host a national show. But for now I am having way too much fun here!!!
: What do you want people to know about Iran?
SZ: It's not all about the rich history of Iran history but its also about Iran's bright future. Iran comes up daily in news discussions. Usually when news about Iran makes it to air its about conflict between the country and the U.S. and other neighbors. What I want people to know is that the people of Iran are different than what they may see in the news or read about. They are a very kind community who wants nothing more than to live in peace.
SS: Desert Island. Three things. What will you take?
SZ: Cell phone (charged)… water …my video camera (I am news person it will make great video when they find me)
Favorite Color: All shades of purple
Favorite City: Both coasts – So Cal and NYC
Favorite Dish: Food from Shomal / Rasht (My mom is from Shomal)
Favorite Drink: Very very dirty martini…extra olives please
Languages: English, Farsi
Currently Reading: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - Deepak Shopra