It’s been an eventful year for Miss Cayman, Ambuyah Ebanks.
The stunning 22-year-old is able to look back on her reign with a sense of pride as she readies herself to hand over her coveted crown at the Miss Cayman Islands pageant this weekend.
Ambuyah, who had never entered a pageant before, was crowned Miss Cayman on 18 February, 2006. Since then it has been a whirlwind past 18 months for the West Bayer who has since travelled the globe.
‘To be honest, at first I didn’t really know what to expect,’ Ambuyah said, ‘but, being Miss Cayman has been an opportunity of a lifetime.’
BEING MISS CAYMAN
Ambuyah’s first taste of the beginnings of her jet-set lifestyle was a trip to Colombia to source a new wardrobe of stunning gowns and outfits to prepare for the Miss Universe pageant in July 2006. It was then on to New York City for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation conference with the Minister of Tourism on her first official engagement as Miss Cayman.
She admits entering an international pageant was nerve wracking at first.
‘I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was just so much fun,’ Ambuyah gushes. ‘I met people there from 85 different cultures and made life long friends. It was an awesome experience.’
Miss World swiftly followed in September and the pageant, which had 104 contestants, gave Ambuyah the opportunity to take in Poland.
‘Visiting Poland had to be one of the highlights. The history, the culture, it was amazing,’ she said.
While in Poland, Ambuyah had the privilege of meeting former Polish President Lech Walesa, politician, former trade union and human rights activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1983.
‘I’m a history buff, so it was really neat to meet such a legend in history.’
Most recently, Ambuyah was asked to judge Miss Florida, USA in July.
‘It was fun to be on the other side of the table,’ she said.
‘It also really let me get to grips with what judges are looking for.’
Back in Cayman, and with her feet still firmly on the ground, Ambuyah has been involved with numerous charitable events.
The Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Futures Society fundraising gala dinner, held last April, gave Ambuyah the opportunity to learn more about marine conservation, a cause close to her heart.
She also hosted the Little League auction, held earlier this year.
‘I was honoured to be asked. I played Little League for 10 years, so I got to meet some of my old coaches. It was fun to be able to give something back.’
But, being Miss Cayman, Ambuyah admits, has had its challenges.
Ambuyah is always perfectly poised when it comes to public speaking, but she said, looks can be deceiving.
‘I’m always a little nervous, but I think some nerves are a good thing. At first I was really terrified, but each time it got a little easier. Now it’s no problem.’
Her biggest challenge? Simply being Miss Cayman, 24 seven.
‘Anytime someone sees me, they want to see the person who won the pageant that night.
‘It’s hard when you are tired. Sometimes you just want to roll out of bed, but you can’t. You have to look polished and presentable all the time.
‘It’s really made me appreciate what a beauty queen is all about.’
FINDING A BALANCE
Balancing work and her role as Miss Cayman has been something which Ambuyah has done effortlessly.
Following her crowning, Ambuyah worked for her sponsors, Boatswain’s Beach, in sales and marketing.
‘If I needed time off they were great,’ Ambuyah said. ‘They really helped make it a lot easier for me to balance work and Miss Cayman.’
Being Miss Cayman may have consumed Ambuyah for the past couple of years, but, she admits, she is ready to move on.
‘I’m really excited about the future. Being Miss Cayman has opened so many doors for me.’
Indeed, Ambuyah, who currently works at the Ritz-Carlton, has ample to look forward to in the future.
She plans to attend Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island shortly, where she will study hotel and hospitality management, thanks to the pageant scholarship.
She is also pursuing her dream of becoming a model.
‘I had lost sight of becoming a model, but Miss Cayman allowed me to get back in touch and make some great contacts.
‘Being Miss Cayman has just been an amazing opportunity. I have changed so much, in a positive way.
‘Having the opportunity to travel, to meet people and be a role model has been a real privilege. I have no regrets,’ Ambuyah said, adding that it would be hard to imagine life without Miss Cayman having been a part of it.
‘Part of me is a little sad,’ she said. ‘It’s been a huge part of my life for the past two years. It’s consumed me.
‘It will be sad to give up that part of my life, but I’m ready to let someone experience what I had, and hopefully more.’