A new queen reigns in the Cayman Islands.

West Bay contestant Anika Conolly, 27, was chosen over four other women to wear the Miss Cayman Islands crown, at Saturday night’s competition at the George Town Lions Centre.

Ms. Conolly also won a $70,000 scholarship to be used anywhere in the world, and the privilege of representing the Cayman Islands as a cultural ambassador.

Ms. Conolly also won Best Smile and Best in Gown. Her response to the evening’s question during the gown segment was met with roaring applause from the audience.

Presenter Matt Brown asked all five candidates about their thoughts on the upcoming Caymanian election and what advice they would give to those running.

“I think this is a very exciting time for the Cayman Islands because we have been a people wanting change for many years. My advice to the candidates running is to focus on matters that are truly important to us as Caymanians, like education. Knowledge is power and key to have a bright and prosperous future for the Cayman Islands,” Ms. Conolly responded.

The aspiring singer has a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in globalization, and a certificate in human resources. She will serve a year as an ambassador for the Cayman Islands with the Ministry of Tourism.

Bodden Town candidate Kristen Amaya, 24, won first runner-up, earning a $5,000, two-year local scholarship, a round-trip ticket through Cayman Airways and several gift certificates. Ms. Amaya also won for Miss Photogenic and the People’s Choice Award, with 3,415 online votes.

She tied with George Town contestant Mahalia Seymour, 22, for the title of Best Legs. Ms. Seymour was second runner-up, earning a two-year local scholarship and other prizes. She was also named Miss Congeniality.

Other competitors included West Bay’s Taylor Langfitt, 24, and Chante Smith-Johnson, 20.

Reigning 2016 Miss Cayman Monyque Brooks took her final walk in the crown and reflected on the sorority of women who have also carried the title. The evening’s proceeds benefited the MS Foundation of the Cayman Islands, an organization the contestants worked with throughout the year. The organized is headed by former Miss Cayman contestant, Alyssa Christian.

Presenter and former Miss Teen Cayman Islands, Donna Bush, spoke about the personal development fostered by pageantry.

“It’s so rewarding to see these young women come up here and see how they’ve grown and the ladies they’ve become, and how they can take that throughout the rest of your life. It’s just really rewarding,” she said.

Premier Alden McLaughlin also presented, recognizing the life skills the contestants had built in self-confidence, communication and stress management.

Miss Cayman Islands committee Chairwoman Derri Dacres-Lee described the pageant as an empowering opportunity for the contestants to further their education and become leaders in the community.

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