Eighteen-year-old Vena Mookram is elated to have copped the coveted Miss World Guyana title on Sunday at the Marriott Hotel after a stiff competition with nine other beauties. Vena also took home awards for Miss Multimedia, Miss Photogenic and the GTT People’s Choice.
In an interview with The Scene, the still stunned Miss World Guyana said, “I didn’t expect to win even though I got the three awards. I was telling myself … it can’t be me, let me just keep standing onstage and looking pretty and when they called my name, I was like ‘Oh my God, are you serious?!’ I was completely overwhelmed and excited. I’m so happy that I will be representing my country on the international stage.”
Growing up Vena was reserved and never one who was fascinated by pageantry or fashion of any sort so she never dreamt that one day she would enter one and more so win it. Entering the pageant, she explained, was a bold step and one that has greatly helped her become a more open person. “I decided to enter the Miss World Guyana Pageant because I saw it as an opportunity to become a better version of myself in terms of building my self-confidence, my public speaking abilities among other things,” she said.
In the run up to the pageant training got more intense for her and the other girls. With the preliminary rounds catering for 80 percent of the total score, that meant that the contestants kept busy trying their best to be the one with the most scores going into coronation night. While they tackled their projects and the preliminary competitions during the day, at night they got busy perfecting their walk and working on their speeches sometimes up to midnight.
Vena’s Beauty with a Purpose Project ‘Promoting Physical Fitness and Nutrition in Relation to the Prevention of Chronic Diseases’ was chosen because of a passion for fitness and a history of chronic disease in her family. “I chose chronic diseases because the two major chronic diseases in Guyana are cardiovascular and diabetes and they account for at least one in four causes of death. Apart from that my family has diabetes…. This seriously affects my family… my passions are fitness and nutrition and I chose to incorporate all three of these elements…,” she said.
To promote her platform she hosted a health fair at M&M Snackette which agents and organizations involved in promoting good health attended. Persons were also given the opportunity to donate blood. The health fair included a seminar that motivated persons to stay healthy. The event she said was really successful, more than she predicted in fact and saw approximately 250 persons in attendance. Some of the organizations present at the health fair were: the Blood Bank, the Guyana Cancer Foundation, Seepersaud Dental Lab, Bio Oil, Extreme Fitness Gym, Namilco and the Guyana Youths and Diabetes.
This year’s Miss World Guyana 2017 pageant took forming a bond among contestants to another level by collaborating with Windsor Estates to have an encampment. “Living in the encampment I was able to form a deep sisterhood with the girls and we shared all of our experiences. It was really amazing, we formed a bond. Each of us was assigned chores…,” Vena said.
Asked whether she thought she was a front-runner in the pageant, she noted that she had no pageant or modelling experience and the other contestants had one or both of these so she never thought of comparing herself with them.
What was her strategy in winning the judges over? She confessed she had none but stayed true to herself and that in her opinion was all they needed to see. Winning, she said, is still surreal and still hasn’t sunk in as yet, but she has been enjoying every moment of it every day since her win.
“I know that being only 18 and winning a pageant has inspired many. For me, I am very privileged that I am a role model for our girls in Guyana. I know that they will look up to me and have high expectations and I will try my very best to upkeep them,” she said.
Education plays a pivotal role in her life. The former Queen’s College and the Bishops’ High School scholar said education is the most important tool anyone can have in their life. “Education empowers us to think for ourselves and gives us an understanding of how the world we live in works,” she stated. She added that it’s the most powerful weapon one has to change the world which is why she takes it seriously so that she too can make a difference whenever, wherever.
Participating in the pageant wasn’t easy as she faced a few obstacles of her own, one being balancing her studies and focusing on the competition. Having to study for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations became that much more difficult when also juggling a pageant. Nonetheless, she managed to organize her time in keeping an agenda of each day’s activities.
Having not been fascinated with pageantry prior to the pageant, she had no role models in this area. However, entering the pageant provided her one – Miss Guyana Jamzone 2013 and Miss Global International Guyana 2015, Alicia Bess. “I thought of her as my motivation because she’s an amazing person, talented in so many ways; I look up to her, and want to be just like her,” Vena gushed.
Though she is grateful for having met Alicia, there is one other person she very much admires – President David Granger. “He’s an inspiration to many persons like myself and I’d love the opportunity to meet him. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity through the pageant of meeting with the First Lady… that just leaves him,” she smiled.
Winning the crown is a moment that Vena will cherish forever, but there was one moment which bested it – being hugged by her father. According to Vena she is very close with her mother but not as close to her father so when he approached her embracing her, she felt proud knowing that he was too and she cried. Even speaking of it saw her getting emotional all over again.
Although Vena won the GTT People’s Choice Awards, there were a few who thought it wasn’t fair that she won the crown. Many persons seemed to have the idea that pageant happened all in one night. However, this was not so as 80 percent of the score accounted for the preliminaries while the other twenty accounted for the coronation night. The Multimedia, Keron Bruce Photogenic and GTT People’s Choice awards were from a three-part competition that catered for 15 percent of the total preliminary 80 percent. The other competitions were the Sports and Fitness, Talent and Beauty with a Purpose which catered for 5, 10 and 30 percent respectively. The other 20 percent was adjudged from one on one interviews with the finalists.
To those who thought otherwise, Vena said she worked very hard to win the crown and deserved it just as much as every other girl on the catwalk that night and will do her very best to bring home the crown for Guyana.
Some other things you may not know about the newly crowned Virgo are, when she’s not taken up with school and pageant duties most of her free time is spent in the gym. She loves reading fantasy novels (Harry Potter, for example) and she has a younger brother and a twin sister.
Vena who just finished writing CAPE hopes to delve further into business achieving a degree in one of its areas but will not start now as she has much work to do as she prepares to leave in October for the international leg of the pageant in China in November.
“My crown and sash are more than just material things; they represent stepping stones in my life and not just as a prize at the end of a pageant. They remind me that with hard work, anything is possible,” she said.
“The legacy I hope to leave behind is to be remembered in a positive and inspirational way. I want persons to remember me as a young girl who was able to achieve all her goals set out regardless of the odds because of her constant determination.”
Vena will be partnering with various organizations and businesses to promote her Beauty with a Purpose Project and by the end of her reign she hopes that she would have made a significant impact on the lives of those struggling with chronic diseases.