Since she was a little girl, Caitlin Tyson has dreamed of winning Miss Cayman. The model and aspiring actress made that dream come true Saturday night in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Westin resort.
Ms. Tyson, 24, receives a $70,000 scholarship from the Ministry of Tourism and the chance to represent the Cayman Islands at the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It has been a dream for so long and now it is my reality. It’s just crazy,” she said after being presented the crown by reigning queen Anika Conolly.
For the seven contestants, getting ready for Saturday’s pageant involved 10 weeks of intense preparations. There were dance rehearsals, weekly sessions on public speaking with the Toastmasters club, etiquette lessons, brushing up on current affairs and runway training.
“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of dedication,” Ms. Tyson said.
“It has been an emotional journey with a lot of ups and downs but we have all gone through it together. There has been no rivalries; we have all helped each other through it.”
She said performing in front of friends and family was the most nerve-racking aspect of the contest. Throughout the night, the lively crowd roared on their favorite contestants, waving pictures and numbers and blowing horns to show their support.
“The energy was amazing. Everyone came out to support us,” said Ms. Tyson, who also had friends from New York following on a live stream.
“I have done some modeling and some performing in New York but being back home in front of everyone you love is a different experience.”
Ms. Tyson has a degree in acting and hopes to use the scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in performing arts. Ultimately, she hopes to help grow the arts scene in the Cayman Islands.
“One of the main reasons I entered is for the scholarship,” she said.
“It is a beauty pageant but it is so much more than that. We are all intelligent women trying to become more skilled and to better ourselves.”
The contest featured a private interview with the judges, swimsuit and ball gown contests and a final question on current affairs.
Ms. Tyson paid tribute to all the other contestants and the sponsors and said she was looking forward to representing Cayman at Miss Universe. She said she was inspired by past winners, particularly her friend Monyque Brooks.
“I have really big shoes to fill. I am humbled to be chosen to represent our beloved islands and I am so excited to have an opportunity that I have been dreaming of for so long.”
Josani Schneider was the first runner-up in the pageant with Tiffany Conolly second runner-up.