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HomeNewsArchivesFour Young Women Set to Compete for Miss Virgin Islands

Four Young Women Set to Compete for Miss Virgin Islands

June 7, 2009 — From encouraging students to get more involved in after-school programs to bringing theater classes to local schools, the four contestants in this year's Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Pageant have built their platforms around improving and empowering the community.
The sixth annual pageant kicks off at 8 p.m. June 20 at the Prior-Jolleck Hall on the Antilles School campus on St. Thomas. The evening will feature competitions in swimwear/physical fitness, talent, evening gown and on-stage questions. Contestants will participate in the interview portion of the pageant June 19. The winner will compete in January for the 2010 Miss America Pageant, to be held in Las Vegas, Nev.
This year the Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Organization will award more than $10,000 in scholarships. The winner will receive the $5,000 International Capital & Management Company scholarship, while the first-runner up will receive a $3,000 scholarship. The remaining two contestants will receive $1,500 in scholarships. All money was raised locally and will be put toward the contestant's college or university.
For this year's contestants, education is a top priority.
"Participating in Miss Virgin Islands was a goal I set for myself," said 20-year-old Esonica Veira, whose on-stage talent won her the top spot in the Ms. Hal Jackson's International Talented Teen Scholarship Pageant in 2005. "This is not just a beauty contest. This show makes you a scholar — it's geared toward promoting education, and gives scholarship funds to young ladies while giving them a chance to showcase their talent. It's a chance for us to let people know what you strongly believe in."
Veira's platform is creating awareness for establishing theater arts programs in school. Veira plans to put her scholarship money toward college, where she will major in theater arts and cosmetology.
"Students love the performing arts, singing and dancing," she said. "It helps children speak out more openly and work on their emotions. It's another thing for them to learn, and it's something fun to add to the curriculum."
For 23-year-old Shayla Solomon, empowering students means getting them involved in productive extracurricular and after-school activities. For the past two years, Solomon has been the producer of the popular teen talk show "Graffiti Street" — a role she took on after spending several seasons on the cast while in high school, serving as both a host and an officer for the organization.
"There are so many benefits from getting involved with positive extracurricular activities, and I'm proof of that," she said. "Along with gaining new friends, you build experience, and by being more involved with your community and with others in the community, you become empowered. Empowerment leads to productivity, and making healthy, positive and wise decisions."
With a bachelor's degree in media communications from Indiana University in Pennsylvania under her belt, Solomon plans to put any scholarship money toward a master's degree in public relations. Along with producing, Solomon's media portfolio also includes hosting gigs for Radio 1000 and WTJX Channel 12.
Aziree Pemberton — who, at 18, is this year's youngest contestant — is also working toward a degree in journalism/public relations. Currently a sophomore at Georgia State University, Pemberton thinks that women can change the world — they only have to get the right educational, financial and social opportunities.
"In my research, looking at developing or third-world countries, I've seen that when women are given a chance to earn a degree, gain financial independence and are socially empowered, they are capable of great things — they can uplift their country," she said. "I think if that happens here in the Virgin Islands, where many women are single mothers living in poverty, then a lot of things can change. They can lead."
The Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Pageant is one of those empowering opportunities, giving contestants the change to showcase their commitment to the community and to themselves, Pemberton added.
Another way of empowering women is to make them more aware of what's going on in the world around them — and that includes being able to recognize the signs of domestic violence, said Jamie Gaston, the lone contestant from St. Croix in this year's pageant.
"I would like to make everyone aware of the different issues and signs of domestic violence, because that's a very serious issue in our community today," she said.
She referenced the recent death of 28-year-old Nefertiti O'Bryan, a popular St. Croix teacher who was killed last month, leaving behind four children.
"In this situation, the batterer killed himself," Gaston said. "Relationships should never get this out of hand. People should know the signs, whether they're the victim, the batterer or even if they have a friend they know is a victim of domestic violence. They need to know they're not alone."
Gaston is a sophomore at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, and is majoring in business management.
This year's pageant, themed "The Best of America's Paradise," will be hosted by Ericka Dunlap, Miss America 2004. The pageant production will be created by Tommy Lyons and Dennis Harris, both longtime supporters and sponsors of the Miss Arkansas, Miss Mississippi and Miss Missouri pageants. The night will also feature Shamika Thomas, last year's Miss Virgin Islands, and other special guests.
Tickets can be purchased at V.I. Bridal & Tuxedo, Home Again, Draughting Shaft and the Caribbean Marketplace at Yacht Haven Grande (across from Wikked Restaurant).
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June 7, 2009 -- From encouraging students to get more involved in after-school programs to bringing theater classes to local schools, the four contestants in this year's Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Pageant have built their platforms around improving and empowering the community.
The sixth annual pageant kicks off at 8 p.m. June 20 at the Prior-Jolleck Hall on the Antilles School campus on St. Thomas. The evening will feature competitions in swimwear/physical fitness, talent, evening gown and on-stage questions. Contestants will participate in the interview portion of the pageant June 19. The winner will compete in January for the 2010 Miss America Pageant, to be held in Las Vegas, Nev.
This year the Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Organization will award more than $10,000 in scholarships. The winner will receive the $5,000 International Capital & Management Company scholarship, while the first-runner up will receive a $3,000 scholarship. The remaining two contestants will receive $1,500 in scholarships. All money was raised locally and will be put toward the contestant's college or university.
For this year's contestants, education is a top priority.
"Participating in Miss Virgin Islands was a goal I set for myself," said 20-year-old Esonica Veira, whose on-stage talent won her the top spot in the Ms. Hal Jackson's International Talented Teen Scholarship Pageant in 2005. "This is not just a beauty contest. This show makes you a scholar -- it's geared toward promoting education, and gives scholarship funds to young ladies while giving them a chance to showcase their talent. It's a chance for us to let people know what you strongly believe in."
Veira's platform is creating awareness for establishing theater arts programs in school. Veira plans to put her scholarship money toward college, where she will major in theater arts and cosmetology.
"Students love the performing arts, singing and dancing," she said. "It helps children speak out more openly and work on their emotions. It's another thing for them to learn, and it's something fun to add to the curriculum."
For 23-year-old Shayla Solomon, empowering students means getting them involved in productive extracurricular and after-school activities. For the past two years, Solomon has been the producer of the popular teen talk show "Graffiti Street" -- a role she took on after spending several seasons on the cast while in high school, serving as both a host and an officer for the organization.
"There are so many benefits from getting involved with positive extracurricular activities, and I'm proof of that," she said. "Along with gaining new friends, you build experience, and by being more involved with your community and with others in the community, you become empowered. Empowerment leads to productivity, and making healthy, positive and wise decisions."
With a bachelor's degree in media communications from Indiana University in Pennsylvania under her belt, Solomon plans to put any scholarship money toward a master's degree in public relations. Along with producing, Solomon's media portfolio also includes hosting gigs for Radio 1000 and WTJX Channel 12.
Aziree Pemberton -- who, at 18, is this year's youngest contestant -- is also working toward a degree in journalism/public relations. Currently a sophomore at Georgia State University, Pemberton thinks that women can change the world -- they only have to get the right educational, financial and social opportunities.
"In my research, looking at developing or third-world countries, I've seen that when women are given a chance to earn a degree, gain financial independence and are socially empowered, they are capable of great things -- they can uplift their country," she said. "I think if that happens here in the Virgin Islands, where many women are single mothers living in poverty, then a lot of things can change. They can lead."
The Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Pageant is one of those empowering opportunities, giving contestants the change to showcase their commitment to the community and to themselves, Pemberton added.
Another way of empowering women is to make them more aware of what's going on in the world around them -- and that includes being able to recognize the signs of domestic violence, said Jamie Gaston, the lone contestant from St. Croix in this year's pageant.
"I would like to make everyone aware of the different issues and signs of domestic violence, because that's a very serious issue in our community today," she said.
She referenced the recent death of 28-year-old Nefertiti O'Bryan, a popular St. Croix teacher who was killed last month, leaving behind four children.
"In this situation, the batterer killed himself," Gaston said. "Relationships should never get this out of hand. People should know the signs, whether they're the victim, the batterer or even if they have a friend they know is a victim of domestic violence. They need to know they're not alone."
Gaston is a sophomore at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, and is majoring in business management.
This year's pageant, themed "The Best of America's Paradise," will be hosted by Ericka Dunlap, Miss America 2004. The pageant production will be created by Tommy Lyons and Dennis Harris, both longtime supporters and sponsors of the Miss Arkansas, Miss Mississippi and Miss Missouri pageants. The night will also feature Shamika Thomas, last year's Miss Virgin Islands, and other special guests.
Tickets can be purchased at V.I. Bridal & Tuxedo, Home Again, Draughting Shaft and the Caribbean Marketplace at Yacht Haven Grande (across from Wikked Restaurant).
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.