Compiled By NAN ET Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 13, 2017: Thirteen Caribbean beauties are among 87 women from around the world who are vying for the coveted title of Miss Universe. The Miss Universe pageant will be aired on January 29 at 7/6c live from the Philippines on FOX TV. The competition will again be hosted by Steve Harvey despite his mega mistake in announcing the wrong pageant winner at the last pageant. Here are the Caribbean contenders:
Charlene Leslie, 24, is representing her country of Aruba in the Miss Universe competition. She was born in Oranjestad and has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. Leslie is currently pursuing her master’s degree in nutritional epidemiology and public health. Simultaneously, she decided to start her own practice where she helps clients achieve their nutritional goals by providing a more personal approach to each person.
Representing The Bahamas in this year’s pageant is Cherell Williamson, 23. The Nassau-born beauty is an entrepreneur as well as a gifted makeup artist, face painter and jewelry designer. Williamson opened her first business while pursuing further training at a cosmetics school with local professionals. It is no surprise that her attraction to fashion, beauty and art would eventually lead her to a modeling career. She has walked the runway of many hometown and international stages. With a busy schedule, Williamson finds time to work with her mother at their Bahamian Boutique and also train hearing impaired young ladies on the art of jewelry making. It is through this giving program that has pushed her to open the Hearing Impaired Native Craft Center. If crowned Miss Universe, Williamson vows to advocate alongside with the AIDS foundation to raise awareness and diminish the discrimination.
Shannon Harris, 22, is representing Barbados in the pageant this year. Harris, who was born in Bridgetown, is one of only a handful of Bajans to ever receive a major modeling contract. When she isn’t on the runway, you can her lounging in sweatpants or yoga pants. She has also has worked with several charities in Barbados, including “I Am A Girl,” which works with high school girls to empower them to know that their voice matters. If she were to win the title of Miss Universe, Harris says she would want to use her voice to encourage young girls that loving yourself and being true to yourself is the best thing you can do.
Twenty-three-year-old Rebecca Rath is representing the Caricom Central American nation of Belize in the competition. She was born in the small coastal town of Dangriga, Belize and spent much of her life outdoors, learning about diversity and many natural attractions including the tropical rainforest and Caribbean Sea. Her sporty side came out when she began playing volleyball in high school, representing Belize internationally in both beach and indoor volleyball. After high school she attended The University of Houston and graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management. Later, Rath moved back to Belize and became the 3rd generation of her family to work in their quaint hotel and actively participate in the national tourism organizations. Today, she works with women of all ages and backgrounds as an event and restaurant manager, and she also volunteers as a volleyball coach at her former high school. If Rath wins the title, she says she hopes to raise awareness for domestic violence and also contribute to the non-profit children institutions in her country.
Miss British Virgin Islands
Erika Renae Creque, 22, is the British Virgin Islands contender in the pageant. Creque, who was born in Road Town, has been called an absolute daredevil. Her bucket list consists of bungee jumping and skydiving but she has a great love for the environment and participates in various non-profit organizations that work to protect it such as Association of Reef Keepers, Caribbean Youth Environmental Network, GreenVI and Greencrete VI. She enjoyed helping people so much that she decided she wanted to be a firefighter. Creque has training in basic life support skills, first aid and has completed basic EMT training. She wishes to complete the full course in order to qualify as an EMT. Her true life goal is to become a Civil Engineer and plans to pursue a degree in that field.
Miss Cayman Islands
Twenty-five-year-old Monyque Brooks is Miss Cayman Islands. Brooks is set on leaving her footprint in the arts industry through participation in major programs, festivals, and dance. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and currently puts that to great use working at the Department of Tourism. For her, becoming the next Miss Universe is not only a lifelong dream but also a mission to inspire and induce change.
Miss Curaçao Chanelle de Lau, 21, isn’t all business, though studying international business and management at school. In her spare time, you can catch her cooking and creating exciting new dishes for family and friends. For relaxation, de Lau enjoys dancing as a form of showing her self-expression and also to relax. In her final year of high school, de Lau lost her father to cancer. Now, as an advocate for cancer research, she is working with many people and organizations around the world to use her voice to advocate for cancer awareness and prevention. If crowned Miss Universe she can reach more people all over the world and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Miss Dominican Republic
Miss Dominican Republic, Rosalba Sal García Abreu, 24, was born into a large agricultural and cattle breeding family in Maimón, in the province of Monseñor Nouel in the Dominican Republic. She joined her father, and 12 brothers and sisters, in raising cows and selling pineapples until she was quickly scouted by a modeling agency at 16. Sal is proud to say that her accidental career as a model has helped her pave way into having her own modeling business while paying her own college tuition. On top of her business, she enlists her volunteering services for the charitable organization “Corazones Nobles.” It was one of her proudest accomplishments for she believes that volunteering keeps her humane and humble. If she becomes Miss Universe, she is excited to continue to volunteer.
Soyini Fraser, 26, is representing the CARICOM South American nation of Guyana in the pageant. She was born in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana and is a media personality, executive producer of her own television series and a professionally trained dancer and actress. Fraser is an aspiring Child Psychologist and has been closely working with the elderly and children, who are less fortunate, by empowering them through mentorship. She is also recognized as a Special Ambassador by the Guyana Tourism Authority.
Raquel Pelissier, 25, is representing Haiti in the pageant. Pelissier survived the earthquake that destroyed her hometown in January 2010, which made her value her life and fight for her goals and dreams. Something that makes Pelissier extra special is that she is quadrilingual and is also getting her master’s degree in scientific research in optometry and vision. Pelissier is working on a research project on the regeneration of the optic nerve and hopes to become the first Miss Universe to find a cure for blindness.
Representing Jamaica in the Miss Universe pageant is 20-year-old Isabel Dalley. Dalley says she grew up with her grandparents who had many cats, dogs and koi fish and that helped her develop a deep and everlasting love for animals. While in college she realized her calling in life was to become a marine biologist. Her love for pageants happened after college when she began her career in modeling, leading to photo shoots and small scale modeling jobs. If crowned Miss Universe, Dalley says she hopes to use her platform to raise awareness for marine biology and teach her following about ways they unite to support marine life.
Miss Puerto Rico Brenda Azaria Jimenez, 22, is a biology and psychology honors student at the University of Puerto Rico. She plans to one day become a neonatal pediatrician in hopes of helping children have a better quality of life. Jimenez was raised in Aguadilla Puerto Rico where she played on numerous basketball teams on a local and national level. Pigeon racing, horseback riding and modeling are some of her favorite pastimes. Throughout her life she has volunteered with community initiatives to help the homeless by collecting food and personal items. She also participated in health clinics for addicts and HIV positive individuals that live on the streets. If she takes home the crown, Jimenez says she would want to continue to be an advocate for HIV awareness with special attention to homeless people who could be afflicted with the disease.
Miss U.S. Virgin Islands
Representing the U.S. Virgin Islands this year is Miss Carolyn Carter, 27, who has been actively working around the globe for years as a spokesperson for HIV/AIDs awareness in the Caribbean. In her down time, the St. Croix-born Chippewa woman is a fashion blogger and painter.