Palisadian Seeks Ms. America Title

Palisadian Marjan Rajabi is seeking to become Ms. America. The contest is open to women 26 years and older, who are single, divorced, widowed or married, and the national pageant will take place Sept. 1-3 in Brea.

Rajabi’s day job focuses on security and compliance at Southern California Edison to make sure nobody hacks the grid. “I fight a million hacking attempts a week,” she said.

Two years ago, Rajabi, the mother of two daughters, Arianna, 16, and Emma, 11, was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Ms. California Regional Marjan Rajabi visits with a veteran at the CalVet home on the West L.A. VA campus.
Ms. California Regional Marjan Rajabi visits with a veteran at the CalVet home on the West L.A. VA campus.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she told Palisades Rotarians at a weekly breakfast. “Most people are like wheelbarrows, they only go as far as they are pushed. When we think we have time, then it becomes a luxury. But we have to seize the time, seize today.”

Rajabi said that before going under the knife, she decided she was going to change her life. As a mom, she felt she had lost her dreams and her desires, and she started reexamining her life, asking herself, “What brings me joy?”

She remembered how, at age 12, she wanted to earn a black belt in martial arts. So as soon as she was out of the hospital, she signed up at Max Impact in Marquez Knolls and started to train; she now has a green belt in Muary Thai and is working out with Brazilian jui jitsu, calling it “great stress management.”

Rajabi’s journey started as an 8-year-old girl in Iran. “I was wakened and told that we had to go,” she said. “We got in a car, went on a flight and never saw my country again.”

The family first moved to Germany, then France and Canada, before finally settling in the United States. Rajabi said she failed her first-grade reading entrance exam, was overweight, and had to learn a new language with each move.

“I was unattractive and socially awkward. I was the perfect target for bullies,” she said, but she overcame these obstacles and now speaks four languages, reflecting the encouragement she received from her father, who told her that “Life is 10 percent of what happens, the other 90 percent is how you react.”

Rajabi entered the Air Force ROTC program at Loyal Marymount University graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1992, and her master’s degree in the same subject from USC in 1997.

Marjan Rajabi attended NASA's space camp with the idea of becoming an astronaut. Photo courtesy Marjan Rajabi
Marjan Rajabi attended NASA’s space camp with the idea of becoming an astronaut.
Photo courtesy Marjan Rajabi

She became a cadet in the U.S. Air Force, flew in a military fighter aircraft and completed parachute training.

“I attended Space Academy for adults which is part of the U.S. Space Camp operated by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama,” Rajabi said, noting the week-long program included living in a simulated-space habitat, mission specialist training, underwater astronaut training (requiring SCUBA certification), and training on astronaut simulators, including the 1/6th gravity chair and Multi-Axis Trainer. “When I became a mom, I decided not to pursue the astronaut track.”

In 2000, Rajabi married Ramin Faramarzi and they moved to Pacific Palisades three years later.

After her cancer diagnosis and surgery in 2014, Rajabi said, “I began to listen more closely to my heart versus always being driven by the mind. That event taught me to live life passionately and honor my desires with a sense of urgency. It also taught me to take risks in life to break routines, to muster courage in the face of hesitation, and to stop judging others and myself.”

On a whim, she looked up the Ms. America Pageant on the Internet last December. “This pageant places an emphasis on inner and outer beauty and community service,” Rajabi said. “Being an introvert and private person, the pageant was a perfect vehicle to help me expand myself, push the envelope and go outside my comfort zone. I followed my heart and applied.”

Once she paid the registration fee and was interviewed, she was accepted as Ms. California Regional.

Rajabi broadened her community volunteer efforts by joining Meals on Wheels, serving meals at Midnight Mission on Skid Row, visiting rehabilitation centers, supporting charity fundraisers and speaking to local groups about her platform: “Strug- gle to Strength—Overcoming Challenges in Life.”

She walked in the Palisades Fourth of July parade as Ms. California Regional 2016— supporting the local Girl Scout troops. (One of her daughters is a Girl Scout).

“In hindsight, I didn’t join a beauty pageant, I engaged in a life journey,” Rajabi said. “I have done more in the last five months in terms of community service and stretching myself to connect with others than I’ve done in years.”

This contest also relies on viewer participation, and Rajabi hopes that people from Pacific Palisades will go online and vote for her. Visit for more information.

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