Nitaya Panemalaythong was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and came to the USA as an infant in 1986. The family moved from Minneapolis, to other locations in Minnesota, to North Carolina, and back to Minnesota in 2004. She is of Laotian decent and fluently speaks the language. Miss Minnesota USA was her first pageant competition and she is the first Asian American to hold the title.
In high school, Nitaya was a member of National Beta Club, a group that recognizes academic achievement, leadership, character, and service. She was also selected to her school’s honors acapella ensemble and graduated as a North Carolina Scholar. Currently, Nitaya works full-time and attends Normandale Community College. Her goal is to attend the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and to obtain a degree in finance.
In her own words, “Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, my parents brought our family to America for a better future. As a proud American citizen and homeowner, I financially support my 10-member household, along with my brother-in-law. Who ever thought I would compete at Miss USA? ”
2012 Miss Minnesota USA : Nitaya Panemalaythong
2012 Miss Minnesota USA Interview : Nitaya Panemalaythong