Kaci Fennell-Style for Change
Kaci Fennell's journey started 23 years ago and today she reigns as the 2014 Miss Universe Jamaica, finally realising one of her dreams. As she leaves the island for Florida tomorrow to represent Jamaica in the Miss Universe International 2015 pageant, she sat down with Flair to talk about what realising her dream has been like and about her reign thus far.
Dream come true
Fennell told Flair that being Miss Universe Jamaica is a dream come true for her, and it's everything she expected it to be. "It was my dream growing up, and I've been lucky enough to be able to say that my dream is now my reality. I've been having a good time, so far, going around Jamaica and meeting and interacting with people," she said.
Inspired by former Miss Universe Jamaica Sandra Foster and the influences of her family, Fennell made the decision to go after her dream. "Growing up and entering 'ladyhood' I made the step, last year, to train my mind and body to dive into making that my reality," she explained.
When Fennell won the crown, she told Flair that that night was the beginning of the rest of her life and she was extremely proud to have finally realised her dream. "After winning, I remember feeling very proud and tired, but I knew that that was but a quarter of the journey. I still have those 'Is this really happening to me?' moments, but then the phone rings and I'm whisked off to another appearance or something - my sweet reality."
She explained that despite the challenges and hard work, her reign has been amazing. "In general, it's been wonderful and I'm happy with the outside changes and smaller dreams I've been able to make come true because of my platform," she explained.
Style for Change Charity
A fundamental feature of the Miss Universe Jamaica Universe pageant is charity. During the competition, each contestant was charged with the mission to find a charity to collaborate with for a fundraising activity - Fennell chose Style For Change.
Style For Change celebrates it's first birthday next month, and is a charity that seeks to reduce poverty focusing on the homeless, impoverished youths and retirees, in particular. "Upon entering the pageant earlier last year, I managed to mobilise all my friends who gracefully volunteered their time, talent and contacts in helping me to make my projects possible," she told Flair.
Through her passion and goal to change the lives of the homeless, she collaborated with the organisation to raise funds, at the time for an upcoming S4C mass-feeding project - which took place through a bake sale on the lawns of the College Green park in Hope Pastures last August. In addition to the funds Fennell raised at the bake sale, she received a contribution of more than $28,000 worth of goods from National Bakery, which went towards snack packs for the homeless.
With Christmas being Fennell's most favourite time of the year, she got a chance to live another dream of hers - to have a charity Christmas dinner for a private girl's home in St Andrew.
With her mother being a baker and Fennell's love for cooking, she collaborated with Chef She Stewart, and they all put their special culinary talents to the test to prepare Christmas Dinner for 18 girls and four mothers. On the menu was crispy ham, chicken, macaroni and cheese, rice and peas, among other delicacies. "We also incorporated the use of the knife and fork and napkin, with a big dining setting ... we just wanted everyone to have a special Christmas, so we shed some light and love and it was a success," Fennell states excitedly.
Getting personal with Kaci
Fennell admits that she will always be a Daddy's little girl, and that was where she got her love for football. "Being a daddy's little girl growing up, I enjoyed anything that daddy loved, and he loved football, so it grew on me," she explained. Another unique thing about Fennell is that her favourite colour is green, "I think green is the most beautiful colour," she said.
Fennell enjoys the tantalising taste of real Jamaican stewed peas, "I like stewed peas with two slices of pear, two pieces of fried plantain and white rice with pigstail, if it has beef, I will eat it, but I like when it has a lot of pigstail," she said excitedly. Who would have thought that a young dynamic woman like Fennell would love the kitchen? "I love cooking and baking, so I'm always in the kitchen with my mother," she said.
That explains why Fennell won the annual Celebrity Cook Off last November at the CB Pan Chicken Grand Final, downtown with her original mango sauce, jerk plantain with jerk chicken all were done on the spot.
Fennell was also featured on the New TV series with Celebrity Chef Charles Mattocks - 'Conversations in the Kitchen' where she revealed her dreams, joys, hopes, what she likes to eat and love - her episode is yet to be aired.
Fennell explains that if she is not cooking up a storm with her mom she is at the beach, "If I am not with my mother, I'm probably on the coast soaking in some sun, sand and swimming in our sea. I love reading a good book as well."
"Well, hopefully, I'll be taking up the reign of Miss Universe International later this month, so that's the goal. I'm putting it out into the universe. But in my general life outside of pageantry, I look forward to continuing my charity work with Style For Change and delving into a few entrepreneurial projects as well as furthering my studies as an educator."