Former Miss USA Noelia Voigt Didn't Know Miss Teen USA Was Also Resigning, Calls Her a 'Strong Young Woman’ (Exclusive)

Former Miss USA2023Noelia Voigtdidn't know Miss Teen USA 2023UmaSofia Srivastava was also resigning

Published Time: 10.05.2024 - 06:31:04 Modified Time: 10.05.2024 - 06:31:04

Former Miss USA2023Noelia Voigtdidn't know Miss Teen USA 2023UmaSofia Srivastava was also resigning.

While speaking to PEOPLE at the opening of the PEOPLE: Celebrating 50 Years exhibit on Thursday, May 9, Voigt, 24, revealed that Srivastava's resignation was "surprising."

"I actually didn't know that she was going to do that. So it was surprising," she says, noting that the two are "very, very, close."

"We were at an event together last night, and we're both feeling incredibly optimistic about the future and what that holds for us individually and together," adds Voigt.

Srivastava, 17, announced her decision in an Instagram post on Wednesday, May 8 — two days after Voigt made her announcement.

The New Jersey teen credited her choice as being a result of her "personal values" no longer fully aligning with "the direction of the organization."

After expressing that she has had “months of grappling with this decision," she said she "will always look back on my time as Miss NJ Teen USA fondly, and the experience of representing my state as a first generation, Mexican-Indian American at the national level was fulfilling in itself."

Voigt tells PEOPLE that Srivastava is a "very, very strong young woman."

"A lot of people haven't gotten to see that side of her yet, but she wants to be a diplomat. She wants to work for the Department of Defense, -

4; says Voigt. "She really is a truly incredible human being, and I could not be more proud of her for showing her generation—teenagers, Gen Z—that it's also okay to step away from things that aren't good for you."

She tells PEOPLE that she is looking forward to the future and is "really overwhelmed and grateful" for the support she's received since resigning.

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"There are so many things that I would love to explore," she says. "My background is in interior design. I think having a show would be really fun, exploring communications in TV. I just feel like the possibilities are kind of endless, and I'm in a point right now where I'm very exploratory of all those things, so we'll see."

When Voigt announced her decision to resign from the Miss USA 2023 title, she cited her mental health.

"In life, I strongly value the importance of making decisions that feel best for you and your mental health," she wrote in a statement, published on May 6. "My journey as Miss USA has been incredibly meaningful, representing Utah with pride, and later the USA at Miss Universe. Sadly, I have made the very tough decision to resign from the title of Miss USA 2023."

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