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Operation Smile

Pritika Swarup's ISLC Keynote Speech

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Pritika Swarup with Operation Smile Co-Founders Bill and Kathy Magee

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“I’ve always stayed true to what mattered to me the most,” beauty entrepreneur (and #MAKEITHAPPEN woman) Pritika Swarup said on Monday night. “And for me, it’s raising awareness for cleft conditions.”

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Swarup, global ambassador of Operation Smile, our #VBGIVESBACK partner, was delivering the keynote speech at the organization’s International Student Leadership Conference in Miami.

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It was Pritika Swarup’s second ISLC conference, having attended her first in 2009 in Beijing. “I just felt this warm feeling, being surrounded by students that were also passionate about making a difference,” she told the crowd of students. “I knew in that moment that I wanted to make this a part of every single area of my life.”

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And she did. Swarup began going on mission trips with Operation Smile, travelling everywhere from Peru to Mozambique. “I knew that working with this organization would help me understand that every single act makes a difference,” she said. “Every little thing you do counts towards our greater goal of bettering society.”

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Below, read more highlights from Swarup’s keynote speech.

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Pritika Swarup delivering her keynote speech at the ISLC conference on Monday night

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On her early Operation Smile Days

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“I started volunteering locally. I did so many bake sales—there's probably some photos of me packing supplies in the back of our old headquarters in Norfolk. Operation Smile and I go really far back. Their mission resonated with me from the very beginning…Even as a student, I felt empowered to make a difference.”

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On forging her own path

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“One of the most important things you can do is surround yourself with people that are going to support your goals and your ambitions... I decided to pursue all my passions simultaneously—education, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and modeling. And I made it a point to never put any limits on myself… At the end of the day, you're the only person that knows what you're capable of.”

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why she's passionate about operation smile's mission

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“I'm sure you all know that making an impact makes us feel collectively most fulfilled. I'm grateful to have a platform to be able to share what it's like to live with a cleft condition—the physical ramifications, and the emotional impact. A lot of people don't quite understand what these children go through.”

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her advice

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“I remember being in your seat and just all the things that were going through my head, the uncertainty of being in school and what you're going to do next…How can you fight for what you believe in and continue to be your best self? My best advice is to never limit yourself. You're so much more capable than you realize.”

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discover more on VB Edit

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