In the year since Tonie Chisholm was crowned Miss Cayman, she has been quite busy, culminating in her representing Cayman at the Miss Universe pageant in December 2015.
On Saturday, the opportunity comes for the next generation of Miss Cayman hopefuls as they vie for the crown at the Lions Centre. The contestants are Latrese Haylock, Theresa Cole, Schilo Scott, Erin Nicole Hislop, Samantha Rea, Jamie Rogers, Monyque Brooks and Shanice Kelly.
Reflecting on the past year of her reign, Chisholm notes that the position they are striving for is a “full time job,” involving shedding light on causes close to their heart, community appearances and public speaking events, and being an example for young women in Cayman.
“What kind of example you are, within reason, is up to you,” said Chisholm. “For me, I hope that I can show people no matter what others think, you can transcend judgment with a little faith and hard work and achieve things no one, including yourself, thought you could.
“A little belief in yourself can go a long way, no matter what goal you want to achieve.”
It is difficult for Chisholm to pick a highlight from her jam-packed year, which included the glitz and glamour of Miss Universe and opportunities to meet many people locally and internationally. However, a more personal experience does spring to mind – when her brother chose her for a class project on someone who inspires him.
“He didn’t tell me for weeks,” said Chisholm, who was both excited and shocked. “I don’t think it’s easy to get that kind of recognition from children; they are a lot smarter than we like to give them credit for. He said it was because I did something that no one thought I could do. I didn’t know that he was aware of the doubt surrounding me or that I was doing something that was completely not me.”
While Chisholm is understandably nervous about having her life and agenda back in her own hands after a year as Miss Cayman, she is also excited to pursue opportunities that have stemmed from her reign, and to apply what she has learned, including what she learned about herself.
“I understand my strengths, my weaknesses and who I really am and what I really want out of life. It’s given me a chance to grow beyond my preconceived emotional and physical limitations and accept myself.”
As for any advice for her successor, Chisholm said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those that are there for you. It’s going to be whirlwind year and it will test you and empower you in ways you didn’t see coming. But no matter what, embrace it and enjoy it!”
The Miss Cayman pageant begins at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-12. Children under 6 attend for free.
General admission tickets are available at Sand Angels, Renaissance, Funky Tangs, Le Classique and Arbutus Gallery. VIP tickets are tiered at $100 and $75 and are sold at Sand Angels. For more information, visit misscaymanpageant.com