For Monyque Brooks, the reigning Miss Cayman Islands, 2016 was a dizzying year that culminated in competing in the Miss World pageant in Maryland, U.S., in December. As she prepares to hand over the title to the 2017 winner, Miss Brooks talks to The Cayman Reporter’s Natasha Were about her experiences as Miss Cayman Islands.
How would you sum up the past year as Miss Cayman Islands?
It has been life-changing. When I won Miss Cayman Islands, I made a promise to myself that I would try my best to ensure that the people of the Cayman Islands felt that they were also on my journey. It meant I had to be quite transparent with all of my activities and social media gave me a platform to do so, especially while overseas at training and the Miss World pageant.
I have also had great opportunities for exposure. Being on Steve Harvey’s live radio show and showing the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach, Caymankind are moments that I will forever cherish. The Miss Cayman Islands platform gave me the opportunity to shed light on various charities and for that I am also grateful.
When not fulfilling my official Miss Cayman Islands duties I continued to assist with my duties as marketing officer in the National Promotions and Events Unit at the Department of Tourism.
One of the benefits of winning Miss Cayman Islands is a three-year educational scholarship. Have you decided what you will do with this?
I had obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the Florida International University prior to winning Miss Cayman Islands. Now, I intend to further my education by obtaining a Master of Science in Entertainment in Hospitality, which will allow me to create a niche and continue to contribute to Cayman Islands society.
You spent two weeks training for the international pageant in October. What did the training involve and how did you find it?
The training took place in Miami with Anastagia Pierre. It really helped me realise my true potential, allowed me to make connections with some influential people and gave me the confidence boost I needed to go and compete in the overseas pageants.
During training we focused on walking, interview preparation, photo taking, diet and exercise, hair and makeup and wardrobe and styling. Before training, I had struggled with the “look” I was going for at the international pageants. We wanted to capitalise on my short hair but didn’t want to be too edgy. After two weeks, we finally decided on a complete image. Who knew that going to a pageant required so much strategy.
You recently returned from the Miss World contest in Maryland. Tell us about that experience.
While at Miss World, I never felt like I was in a competition. The other contestants were all very supportive, we gave each other words of encouragement before the various rounds of the competition and created bonds with that will last a lifetime.
The five Fast Track events were Beauty with a Purpose, Sports, Talent, Multimedia and Top Model. I made it to the final round in sports and had to participate with my team in track and field. Aside from the cook-off challenge, which my team won as well, this was an exciting day for me.
Having fulfilled one great ambition in becoming Miss Cayman Islands, what are your hopes and plans for the next phase of your life?
Becoming Miss Cayman Islands has been a launching pad for me to create the next chapter in my life. Aside from obtaining my masters degree, I intend to pursue the opportunities that have been presented to me.
In a few weeks’ time you will be handing over the title to the next Miss Cayman Islands. What advice would you offer to the 2017 contestants, based on your own experiences?
The best advice I could give to the new Miss Cayman Islands is be yourself. There is no recipe for what it takes to be Miss Cayman Islands. You just have to strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be and everything else will fall in to place. In addition, stay true to Caymankind and pray every day.