The 2010 graduate of the GHSU nuclear medicine program won the Miss Georgia United States pageant on her first attempt.
“I was interested in pageants but I was hesitant because I have a different name and background,” Patouga said. She and her parents immigrated from Kazahkstan when she was 8 years old.
“But then Rima Fakih won Miss USA,” Patouga said. That inspired the pageant novice to give it a shot, and she hopes that her win can inspire other women of diverse backgrounds to compete.
And while the contest is a traditional beauty pageant, where entrants compete in swimsuit, evening gown and interview segments, Patouga said that she and most contestants see the pageant as a means to an end.
“It is not about the crown or the prizes. It’s more about the title, and the opportunity to promote your platform,” she said. Most of the contestants she met have college degrees and are passionate about charity work. She said that they generally share a goal of bringing attention to a need or an illness.
Patouga’s charity is the American Heart Association, inspired by her cardiology training at GHSU and her work as a nuclear medicine technologist.
“I often see patients come in when it’s too late. I look forward to dedicating my time and raising awareness on cardiac care,” Patouga said. She believes that her medical background enables her to be an effective volunteer and leader for the American Heart Association. In addition to her work with the AHA, She hopes to work with Children’s Health Care of Atlanta, where she did some of her clinical training, and with the MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center.
Patouga will travel to Las Vegas in July to compete in the Miss United States pageant.