News

Sydney student named Miss World Australia


26 May 2006

Sabrina says she was online when she stumbled across the Miss World Australia website. Reading further she discovered the Miss World Australia philosophy of supporting charity:
Sabrina says she was online when she stumbled across the Miss World Australia website. Reading further she discovered the Miss World Australia philosophy of supporting charity:

When she was deciding where to study Sabrina Houssami, a 19-year-old Bankstown girl and the new Miss World Australia, chose Sydney University because it had the most beautiful surroundings and the highest academic standards.

Like the University Houssami has been blessed with beauty and intelligence. The second year liberal arts student, who originally planned to complete a PhD in child psychology, said she wanted to study somewhere that "was relaxing and conducive" to long hours of study.

"I love the quadrangle, it's just so beautiful. The whole university is such a tranquil, idyllic environment," she says. "There is also such a strong sense of learning here," says Houssami, who is currently studying Arabic, statistics and psychology.

She already speaks Hindi - her mother is Indian and she has visited New Delhi "about 12 times". But learning Arabic is giving her an insight into her father's Lebanese Muslim culture.

Houssami loves the "diversity of culture" at Sydney University. It's an amazing example of tolerance. You always see mixed groups of people walking together." When she overhears students speaking in Arabic, "I love that I can understand a bit of what they are saying."

So how did she come to be in a beauty pageant? Houssami says she was online when she stumbled across the Miss World Australia website. Reading further she discovered the Miss World Australia philosophy of supporting charity: "beauty with a purpose".

As a prefect she had been involved in organising Jeans for Genes and other school fundraising, and at university she missed having that "platform" for charity work Charity is also one of the pillars of Islam, Houssami says. "I want to influence the world in a positive way, like a ripple in the water of life."

Indian poverty is "very close to my heart". Her current charity is The Astara Angels Charity, which is raising funds to build an orphanage for abandoned Indian girls in Rishikesh, at the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. Astara sells postcards with pictures of a brick on it for $20. Anyone who buys a postcard will "have their name inscribed on a brick" at the home, Houssami says.

Houssami says most of her university teachers are very "very understanding" about her charity work. "I think I go to the best university in the world in that it truly encompasses world values in both its staff and student population," she adds. "It truly epitomises tolerance and diversity."

After winning the Bankstown, and then NSW rounds of the competition, in 2005 she was named Miss World Australia runner-up. But organisers were so impressed with her ongoing fundraising work that when the Miss World competition was unexpectedly brought forward this year (it will be held in September in Poland) they asked her to be Australia's representative.



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