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Subject: The Miss CUC Scholarship Pageant

Tobago Express
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Date Posted: 02/13/05 2:02:25am

Antigua: Aleesha-Leslie Henry Guyana: Lynnita George Martinique: Katia Caroujel St Lucia: Sadia Moore St Vincent: Maeron Stephen Tobago: Anisha Hislop Trinidad: Tonia Robinson Venezuela: Jenny Barrios

Here's an oxymoron: a Seventh Day Adventist beauty pageant. Well, to be fair, this is not your swimsuit-segment-boob-job kind of shindig.

"It's about internal beauty," Del Charles of the Caribbean Union College's public relations department predictably said. The pageant is also about community spirit, cultural awareness and the eight finalists' personal and professional development. So while the delegates won't be required to pose poolside in a two-piece or have their measurements printed in the paper, they are expected to be ambassadors for their countries, school and faith. Each girl will perform. Their evening gowns must be modest. And they are all working on their national costumes and Caribbean Women in History speeches for the final night. It's tuition money, not a tiara, that's at stake in this pageant.

The Miss CUC Scholarship Pageant, scheduled for February 27, is just one of the activities slated for the inauguration celebrations of Dr Trevor Gardner, the college's 25th president. But for most students at the Maracas Valley SDA-run school, the Sunday evening show will be the highlight.

The event was the brainchild of the College's Drama Missionary Acting Group (Drama MAG). According to group director Bertrand Moses, the members of Drama MAG thought they could produce a pageant that would roll many of their own functions into a different format.

"What the group does is try to reach out to the community and use our talents to glorify God," Moses said. "The delegates are doing the same." And with a student community comprising more than 35 nationalities, the pageant and its participants also serve to underline the cultural diversity that's part of campus life. Moses explained that each of the college's national clubs was asked to elect a delegate. The chosen ones were then screened and the long list was whittled away to eight different and dynamic young women.

First, Miss Antigua. Aleesha-Leslie Henry is an associate degree student of office technology. The aspiring entrepreneur explained that she chose to attend CUC because of the fusion of academics and spiritual grounding that it offers.

"The education here is solid," she said. "The college is affiliated with Andrews University in the USA. And the spiritual background is also important to me. I appreciate that the lecturers also act as counsellors to us."

Miss Guyana, Lynnita George, is pursuing a degree in elementary education.

"So many children slip through the cracks because our approach to education doesn't take their learning style or individuality into account," she said. "I believe in discovery learning-helping children to grasp concepts through exploration."

Katia Caroujel, Miss Martinique, is one of the few female students of theology at the college. Caroujel said that committing her life to the service of God wasn't a difficult decision.

"I believe this is what God wants me to do," she said. "And my focus will be on youth ministry. I think the church often bombards young people, telling them don't do this and don't do that without explaining the reasoning to them." Sharing the truth with young people is one story. Becoming a female pastor is another. Currently, the SDA church does not ordain female pastors. Caroujel thinks that the issue is more social than religious.

"When society accepts it, the conference will follow," she said. "I think by the time I'm ready to start there won't be that problem."

Miss St Lucia's career ambition is infused by her personal experience. Sadia Moore, a behavioural sciences major, explained that she would like to specialise in social work with particular emphasis on delinquent youth, women and children.

"I never had the perfect relationship with my father and my home was never a place I looked forward to going," she revealed. "My field of study helps me to put my past into perspective and it will also help me understand what motivates people and how I can help them."

Maeron Stephen represents St Vincent. Ultimately she'd like to be an attorney and columnist. For now, however, she is pursuing a major in English and a minor in communication studies. Stephen reconciles the realms of law and writing like this: "I see things from a different perspective and I like to convince people that I'm right," she said with a confident smile.

Trinidad and Tobago are being represented separately in the pageant. Miss Tobago is Anisha Hislop. She has coupled her behavioural sciences major with a minor in biology and hopes to become a child psychologist. Hislop admitted that life in Trinidad is an adjustment even for her. "Things are more laid-back in Tobago," she said. "Everything here is hectic."

Miss Trinidad is Tonia Robinson, a behavioural sciences major and business administration minor. Robinson would like to become a psychologist and hopes to infuse a measure of spirituality into her practice.

"I will not impose my beliefs on my clients," she said, "but I do believe that we should not neglect our spiritual selves. That's fundamental to wholeness and well-being."

Jenny Barrios is pursuing a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. The Venezuelan has two passions--sport and science. She enjoys swimming, badminton and hiking, and envisages a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Barrios is currently ahead of her fellow competitors on the online poll at the college's website, cuc.edu.tt.

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