“You should always take a chance because you never know how absolutely perfect something can turn out to be,” said an elated and satisfied Shoshanna Ramdeen. After not winning the Miss India Guyana crown the first time around in 2017, she came back full swing this year, determined to win the judges’ approval and she did.
In a sit down with The Scene, the 22-year-old stunner shared her pageantry experience, what led to her taking up the challenge and what it has been like since becoming Miss India Guyana 2018.
A shy country girl, Shoshanna grew up in Tuschen on the West Coast Demerara, a life she shared with an older brother and their parents. She attended Greenwich Primary School, then Zeeburg Secondary. According to the young woman she was never one to be taken up with school competitions, concerts or public speaking. She feared standing before a crowd, but she had always dreamed of more for herself and to be needed and able to help those who need her.
The desire to help others began at an early age when she felt helpless seeing relatives dying from cancer, crying out in pain and feeling sorry that she could do nothing but watch. She realized soon enough that she wanted to be the person wearing the white coat and had vowed someday she would be a doctor. On graduating high school, she went on to do advanced levels of Biology, Chemistry and Physics at School of the Nations before enrolling at the Greenheart Medical University where she is currently a third-year student.
It was sometime last year that she felt she wanted to try something new and was up for a challenge. Around that time, she learned of the Miss India Guyana competition. Shoshanna said she was never one for pageantry and only saw it as highlighting the beauty of its contestants at first. But a closer look enlightened her on the platform it allows for raising awareness of illnesses and other benefits. “What I admired especially about the Miss India Guyana pageant was that it promoted culture and morals and I decided this was something I wanted to do. Pageantry I would learn is more than appearance; it’s about a beautiful heart and being strong,” Shoshanna said.
She shared that pageantry has improved her as an individual. She recalled that at last year’s rehearsals, which were spearheaded by trainer Derek Moore, she was often reprimanded by him to smile. Growing up not only had she been timid but very serious. She mentioned that she had never seen a giggling or smiling doctor and could not recall seeing any of her lecturers wearing a smile and she had patterned herself that way too. Derek, she said, had taught her something important, which was if she could not smile during rehearsals, there was no way she would smile when it came to the coronation night and he was right.
That year Canada-based Guyanese Sangeeta Bahadur stole the hearts of the judges and not only did Shoshanna miss her chance at the crown but she also didn’t place. She was however awarded the Miss Beautiful Hair award.
This was more than she could take. It was not like her to not acquire the goal she set out and she was determined to have another try. Shoshanna confessed that even some of her supporters from last year tried to dissuade her from participating again telling her to not waste her time but to instead focus on getting her degree. This was easier said than done. What they did not realize was that they added fuel to the fire and Shoshanna was more than ever unwavering about following through with her plan; putting university on hold she began self-training. Armed with the internet she started watching pageant tutorials on YouTube, determined to get it right every way she could.
This year under new management of Hashim and Melissa Ali, the contestants were trained by Alicia Bess. Training, the queen said, was rigorous as she recalled many days when they would begin training at around six in the evenings and go until close to midnight. Because of the late hours and wanting to be more committed, she opted to stay in the city ahead of the pageant.
Shoshanna shared that she has come a long way, noting that pageantry has boosted her self-confidence, brought about positiveness, allowed for her to be more engaging sociably and improved her public speaking abilities. More importantly, for someone who has never had a sister, she gained an entire sisterhood on both occasions. She mentioned that she remained close with the women she contested against last year. Competing the second time around, she said, had improved such benefits and she did not hold back the smiles.
Another woman she was grateful to have met and worked along with is Miss India Guyana Worldwide 2011 Roshini Boodhoo, who had gone on to win Miss Congeniality at the Miss India Worldwide competition and finished as fourth runner-up. “Roshini was my go-to person. She was with me backstage at all times. She worked with me on my talent piece and pushed with me until I got it right. She is phenomenal,” Shoshanna said.
Then she shared lessons learned from a pair of shoes. Since last year’s shoes still looked chic and felt comfortable, she decided to use them at her rehearsals and to leave getting herself a new pair closer to the day of the pageant. But trainer Alicia, knowing best of course, told her that she needed to rehearse in the shoes she was going to wear the night of the pageant and she would later learn why. With cash in hand she began the quest to find the perfect shoes that spelt classy and felt comfortable at the same time. Constant practice causes one’s feet to become sweaty and if the shoes get too slick, the wearer can slip. Finding those shoes, she recalled, took forever and breaking them in was another trouble. She had to do so during rehearsals under pressure; something that should have been done at home. Rehearsals could have turned out to be traumatic, Shoshanna grimaced at the thought of what could have been the outcome or even worse had she left the shoes to be worn only on the night of the pageant. Not only would it have been She has always admired Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, who won the Miss World 2000 title. Yet if she could meet just one person that she really admired it would have been Mother Teresa. Shoshanna is awed by the kindness and compassion she had, which she learned by reading about her. She is sure it would have been a profound experience she would share for generations to come.
Shoshanna encouraged everyone to persevere for their goals and to live their passions.
She took the opportunity to acknowledge those who supported her, especially her mother. Since winning the Miss India Guyana title, Shoshanna said, she has a new perspective on life and every day the idea of being queen is still surreal and she certainly looks forward to her reign.
Because of little time this year to pull off the pageant the contestants did not have platforms. However, Ramdeen who had taken up Cancer Awareness at last year’s pageant and had begun working with the Guyana Cancer Foundation will continue to do so during her reign and after.
The Leo-born queen enjoys reading, travelling, meeting new people and spending time with her family. She has a pet poodle called Melly and admits that she’s her baby since she sleeps with her and she sees to it that she is well taken care of.
Asked whether she will be considering pageantry in the future, Shoshanna said she can’t be sure of another pageant, but will remain open-minded about the idea. She does plan to have a modelling career on the side.
Shoshanna bested nine other beauties at the Miss India Guyana Pageant at the Marriott Hotel two Sundays ago. She also walked away with the Miss Beautiful Skin Award among other prizes. She will represent Guyana at the international leg in December in New Jersey, USA.