Introducing the Miss Renaissance 2017 contestants

Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak

The Miss Renaissance Pageant is here again and it’s time for Melissa Dow-Richardson, who won in 2015 to give up the crown.

Miss Renaissance Guyana was founded in 2003 by Negla Brandis. The pageant had initially started out as an annual one but because of sponsorship it is now being held every two years.

The pageant specifically caters for women over 30 and the focus this year is to highlight and address the various issues affecting senior citizens in Guyana.

The Scene is pleased to introduce the 12 contestants all of whom possess beauty, talent and intelligence all of which will come to fore on August 19 at the National Cultural Centre.

The twelve contestants vying for this title are: Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak, Teona Greene-Eririogu, Marcia Edwards, Carolyn Legall, Bevon Austin, Oletta Alleyne, Deon Jewel Smith, Stacy Carmichael, Odessa DeBarros, Viola Jillian Moore, Nokola David and Tessa Eileen Fernandes.

Thirty-seven-year-old Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak, a senior mistress at Diamond Secondary School is a familiar face in pageantry having competed in seven already namely: Miss Covent Garden Secondary Diwali Pageant 1993 (queen), Miss East Bank Sari Pageant 1994 (1st runner-up), Miss Guyana Phagwah 1995 (1st runner-up), Miss Guyana Diwali 1999 (third runner-up), Miss Queen of Lights Guyana 2000 (third runner-up), Miss Music Fantasia Guyana Phagwah 2001 (queen) and Miss Bartica Sari Contest (queen).

The teacher explained that being a part of the Miss Renaissance Guyana comes with two advantages: being able to relive her days of pageantry and more so being given the opportunity to address legal issues affecting senior citizens. The University of Guyana graduate believes she should win because it will be a lesson to the younger girls who think that nothing much can become of a mature woman competing in pageantry, showing them that her age just means that she has more to offer to society when it comes to experience and wisdom. Jennifer, a Capricorn, loves the colour yellow, eating seven curry and browsing the net.

Teona Greene-Eririogu is a registered nurse and ward manager (Accident and Emergency) at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation. She recalls wanting to be a part of the Miss Guyana Talented Teen when she was 14; she had auditioned but didn’t make it. After that she got too caught up for pageantry but her fascination with being in one never left. “I heard of the Miss Renaissance Pageant two years ago but I was 28 years old and had to wait…,” said the former St John’s College and St Rose’s High CAPE student. Teona is also the vice-president of the Guyana Nurses’ Association and is a part-time clinical instructor at the Georgetown School of Nursing. The Gemini born in her limited spare time enjoys ballroom dancing and listening to music. Her faourite colour is green and she loves to eat metemgee.

“I entered into the pageant because I want to be a role model for the mature, intellectually, stimulating and well-rounded Guyanese woman,” 32-year-old credit supervisor, Marcia Edwards said. Marcia’s focus on the elderly zeroes in specifically on their safety. Having had the tragic experience of a great aunt who died four days prior to them finding her as she lived alone is one of the contributing factors of her deciding upon the safety of the senior citizens. The other factor is her grandmother who also lives alone but not wanting history to repeat itself, she is checked upon every day.

Many times Marcia said, she would be on her way to work and would see bus drivers speeding by elderly persons just because they’re slow. There should be transportation provided for them she insists and strongly believes that when they’re using public transportation, they should not have to pay. She added that some of them do not have trustworthy persons to collect their pensions so they have no option but to go themselves joining long lines. She’s not sure what probable solution will work for this but she has taken it into much consideration. This Capricorn in her free time finds herself volunteering at the Georgetown D’Urban Park Lion’s Club. Her hobbies are: reading, travelling, sight-seeing, going to the movies and hanging out with friends. She doesn’t have a particular favourite colour but is drawn to earth tones.

Forty-two-year-old Carolyn Legall hails from the county of Berbice, more specifically, New Amsterdam. She is attached to the Ministry of Social Protection as a Child Care and Protection Officer and attained her Social Work degree in 2015. She was the best graduating student for Bachelor’s in Social Work at the Tain Campus. This September Carolyn will be among the first batch at UG to pursue a Master’s in Social Work. “My focus is how to demonstrate to the elderly that we care and being a social worker, during my training I would have worked with senior citizens so I know what it was all about before I entered the pageant,” she said. Legall enjoys socializing and travelling. She was born under the zodiac sign of Libra, loves the colour turquoise and enjoys     eating anything that is curried.

Bevon Austin hails from Charity on the Essequibo Coast and is currently the head teacher of St John’s College. Bevon is a mother of four and according to her she joined the pageant to improve her confidence level and presentation skills as well as to be a role model to young girls and mature women of all races and cultural backgrounds. Her qualifications entail a certificate in education management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Austin is particularly focusing on home care for the elderly. “After I am crowned the new Miss Renaissance Guyana 2017 my new purpose on earth will commence.

I will embark on a project to recruit trained professionals in the medical field who will be tasked with visiting senior citizens in the comfort of their own home…,” she confidently said. Her hobbies are reading, doing educational research, travelling, listening to music, exploring nature and spending quality time with her friends. This Gemini loves to eat mixed cookup rice and her favourite colour is turquoise.

Our last contestant for this week is Oletta Alleyne, a trained teacher at Annandale Secondary. Oletta, a mother of four and grandmother of one, she says her concern will be on the education of senior citizens. Many of our elders as they would have reached a certain age and are often deemed not useful, a myth Oletta is hoping she can change. She wishes to see more persons push the elderly into furthering their education and finding something to do with their time. This, she added, will contribute to society and will enlighten them having something to do. “I want them to continue their education and not just be able to further it but to be able to further it free of cost. They can help to manage backlog information in companies as well as boost tourism by teaching youths skills like embroidery, canning foods and drying fish. This will help to preserve our culture and boost our economy while keeping our youths employed,” said the Pisces born contestant. Her hobbies are dancing, drama and reading novels. Her favourite colour is brown and she likes to eat fried rice.

In another edition of The Scene we will bring you remaining six Miss Renaissance contestants.

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