Mon | Oct 15, 2018

I quit my job for the title

Published:Friday | August 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/ Gleaner Writer
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2018 – Miss St Mary, Ackera Gowie.
Miss Festival Queen 2017 Dainalyn Swaby takes her final walk.
Second place winner Miss Hanover, Shantae Grant.
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2018 Ackera Gowie (second right) presented with her prize cheque by (from left) Interim Executive Director, JCDC, Orville Hill; Patron, Juliet Holness; and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange.
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Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2018 Ackera Gowie describes herself as a woman of faith.

Gowie, who held off an intense bout of competition on Wednesday night to become the next Festival Queen, told The Gleaner that she gave up her job to seek the prestigious crown. Looking back, the newly-minted queen said that she would do things the same way as she stepped out in faith on her journey to the title and knew the competition was hers to lose from that point.

Speaking with The Gleaner just moments after being crowned, Gowie revealed that her decision to leave her job to enter the competition was met by extreme scepticism from many persons. She noted that some persons even thought that she was crazy, pointing out that only an insane person would "give up sure for unsure". "I was working at the University of the West Indies with the director of Student Services and Development. When I told people what I was going to do, they were like, 'Girl, are you crazy? Don't close one door before the other is opened', but I stepped out in faith, and I believed this was it, and God would have provided a way out for me," she shared. "This means the world to me. I've worked assiduously for months, years, actually, because last year, I entered the competition and had to withdraw because I had examinations at the university. This year was my year - I told myself that - and I worked extremely hard day in, day out, sacrificed a whole lot for this win."

Gowie told The Gleaner that with St Mary not being in the spotlight as much as it should lately, she decided to do something to get the parish some much-needed attention and that her giving up her job was for the greater good. "I gave up my job for this. I saw an opportunity to be more, and I wanted that. I saw a way I could give back to my parish, which is something I've always wanted to do, and I took that opportunity. Now, I have the chance to give back to my country, and I intend to do as much as I can with this platform," she said. "I'm blessed, and I'm so grateful that I was able to put in the work and take home the crown for my parish. I hope to use this platform to bring some attention to my parish. We have been out of the loop for some time now. This win serves to reinforce and to encourage people from my parish that they can achieve anything they want to regardless of where you're from."

Gowie was a crowd favourite on coronation night, and as the competition drew to a close, it was not hard to figure out why. She had the audience completely engaged as she delivered her talent piece titled Goat World. She dressed like a goat and was in complete goat character as she raised awareness surrounding the issue of predial larceny. She went on to win two sectional prizes on Wednesday night, including the coveted Most Culturally Aware. It was not smooth sailing, however, as she fumbled in the question and answer segment. She told The Gleaner that while her answer was not the best on the night, she held her composure and did not let the glitch affect her. "Within that moment, thankfully, I was not distracted because I realised what was happening. I'm used to reading the question, passing it on to the emcee and having him read it again, and that would have given me time to gather my thoughts. There were many things I could have said, and I wanted to settle on one main point to present, however, I did not get the opportunity to do that." She continued, "I felt like I stood up tough regardless. I was strong and resilient, and I persevered. Before coming on stage, I prayed, and I said, 'God, this is in your hands. Whatever is to be will be, and it's already done'. I just wanted to come out and perform for my representatives from St Mary and make them proud, and I think I've done that."