From tabloids, fame to humble college life

Former Miss Teen Nepal and UNA student Priyanka Karki

Jenn Lyles Life Editor

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> Imagine yourself in a foreign

country, attending college in a small town. You walk into class and

see Lady Gaga sitting on the front row as a student. That’s pretty

much how international students from Nepal felt when they walked in

the GUC or sat down in a UNA classroom to see Priyanka


<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> The beautiful, tall, dark-haired,

caramel-complexioned senior, Priyanka Karki, came to UNA in the

fall of 2007.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “When I was 18 I tried out for

Miss Teen Nepal, never expecting to win,” said Karki. “The

competition took place during a short holiday from school, so I

figured I’d try it out and meet some people.”

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> Karki, who described her childhood

as normal and financially comfortable, said she was shocked when

she was crowned Miss Teen Nepal.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “The next day I was all over the

newspapers, the TV, and people were calling me to do more

interviews and even offered me movies,” Karki said.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> Within months she had used her

platform to pursue a dream she never knew she had. After originally

deciding to become a bio technician and major in science, it all

changed instantly.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> Karki became a TV host, starred in

commercials for Sunsilk, Close-up Toothpaste, Wei Wei Noodles, and

a variety of banks, and was featured in more than 40 music videos,

awareness documentaries, and even starred as the lead character,

Tina, in the TV show “Gharbeti Ba,” a successful show from Nepal

comparable to “Three’s Company.” The television stint lasted 52


<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “And I just wasn’t focused on

school anymore,” Karki recalled. “I was skipping to go do a

commercial, or go do some other gig. Eventually I knew I had to

make a change.”

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> After a couple years of being in

the spotlight, Karki was sick of it. She said some tabloids were

hurtful and her privacy was completely taken from her.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “I didn’t tell the press I was

moving. I didn’t tell anyone but my family,” she said.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> She had a family friend who was

living in Florence, and that’s the only reason, she said, she

decided upon UNA. So she left Katmandu, Nepal to come to the United

States to focus on obtaining her degree in Film and Media

Production, with a minor in theater. Karki graduates this May, and

hopes to attend New York Film Academy for her masters.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “I had my freedom back. I realized

how much of a private life I missed,” she said.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> But living in a country where

everyone knows your name has its perks. She said she was catered to

and people wanted to be her. But here, she was just another student

at UNA. She admits her life in Alabama is a humbling


<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “I waited tables here,” she said.

“I would’ve never ever had to do something like that back at


<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> Karki was married this past summer

to former UNA student Rochak Mainali. And like her choice to move

to UNA, she kept it all a secret. She said Mainali, who was also

from Nepal, was different from other guys who only went out with

her because of her fame.

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “He knew I was famous. He knew who

I was, but he never treated me any differently,” she said. “That

was the first thing that attracted to me to him.”

<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> And now with graduation embarking

on her, Karki said her time in North Alabama will never be


<span style=

“font-size: 14pt;”> “I came here and I found myself

again,” she said. “I remembered who I was and how important school

was to me, and I did everything I set out to do. I’m proud of what

I’ve accomplished.”