Miss Teen Bermuda inspired by ‘strong, Christian women’
Shaunte Simons was crowned the winner of Miss Teen Bermuda Islands 2011 at the Fairmont Southampton this weekend.
The 17-year-old beat out eight contestants to win the crown, and was also named Miss Sweet Charity 2011.
Miss Simons represented Devonshire and is a recent graduate of Saltus Grammar School.
She will attend University of West England in the United Kingdom this autumn, where she will study law. The beauty queen has also received an education award from the Bermuda International Companies group.
Miss Simons said she has dreamed of becoming a lawyer ever since she was five years old. She is especially interested in pursuing family and criminal law.
She said she has always been actively involved in the community and has completed over 400 hours of community service. The teenager said she especially enjoyed volunteering with the Bermuda Hospitals Board and mentoring young people through Youth Net’s mentoring programme. She also works as a Sunday School teacher at the St David’s Glory Temple New Testament Church.
Miss Simons is a Christian and said that her take on moral issues is influenced by her religion. She said that she wants to be a role model for the youth of today. “I want to teach them moral responsibility,” she added.
She said she was looking forward to fulfilling her duties as Miss Teen Bermuda in December she will travel to St Kitts to represent the Island in the Miss Talented Teen Haynes Smith Digicel Pageant.
She will also speak with young men and women and offer them advice. She intends to motivate them but she said: “I also want to be someone the children feel comfortable talking to.”
Two of her personal role models include her mother, Marlene Flyn-Carty, and her pastor, Blanche Burchell of Glory Temple New Testament Church. Miss Simons said she was inspired by them because “they are strong women strong Christian women who do good work in the community”.
Sunday’s pageant was Miss Simons’ first.
She said she decided to apply because she wanted to do something outside her comfort zone and she found competing a great experience.
“I wanted to step out of my box and do something different,” she explained.
Miss Simons said she loved being onstage. Though she performed in recitals for In Motion School of Dance, doing ballet and jazz in her youth, this was her first time in front of such a large crowd.
She said she discovered that although the pageant was a fun experience, it was also a lot of work. Her favourite part of the competition was presenting her platform, which involved public speaking. It was the first time she delivered a speech from memory before such a large audience.
Her mother Marlene Flyn-Carty, father David Simons, stepfather Bobby Carty and stepmother Teresa Simons were all present in the front row and cheered her on the whole time.
Miss Simons said she had experience with public speaking in the past as a member of Youth Parliament, however the Miss Teen Bermuda Pageant enabled her to find her confidence.
Another highlight of the pageant for Miss Simons was the talent portion. She performed a dance that landed her in the top three.
“All the girls did very well this year,” said Terry Smith, who has been running the event for the past decade.
He said that the competition went “extremely well” and added that “it was our shortest pageant in terms of production”.
The show ran for two hours and 15 minutes and started on time one of Mr Smith’s biggest goals.
The show was hosted by Miss Teen Bermuda 2001 Whitney Morfit and Alisha Phillips, who was awarded Miss Talent in 2002 and was a finalist in both 2001 and 2002 competitions.
Kayla Lathan performed an original song, ‘Bermuda is Paradise’. Premier Paula Cox was in the audience and was impressed by Miss Lathan’s performance, Mr Smith said.
He added that the song might be used to promote Bermuda by the Department of Tourism.
Choosing the winners was a difficult process with only half a point separating the second and third runners up, Mr Smith said.
He acknowledged the pageant’s youngest contestant, Zanabi Suluki of Warwick, who turned 13 just before the start of the competition.
“She did extremely well for a girl of her age,” he said.
Mr Smith also acknowledged a job well done by runners up Kayla Furbert of St George’s West, Siairah Minors of Smith’s, Tabia Butterfield of St George’s East and Allanna Bean of Pembroke. Other contestants included Denisha Roberts of Hamilton, Melae Bowen-Daniels of Warwick, Zainab Suluki of Warwick, and Zaakira Lee of Southampton.
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