Monique Robb - Ready for the next level
Schoolteacher Monique Robb is one of the happiest women on the north coast after defeating eight rival contestants last Saturday night to be crowned Miss St Mary Festival Queen 2016.
The contest, which is hosted annually by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and aims to raise cultural awareness among the parish's young females, was attended by more than 250 patrons and took place at the Anglican Church Hall in Port Maria, St Mary.
Speaking immediately after winning the pageant, Robb, who hails from the Lighthouse community of Galina, said she was overwhelmed and would do her very best to represent St Mary appropriately at the national level.
The 24-year-old political science graduate told Rural Xpress: "Winning this competition is a feeling like no other. I don't think I can describe it as something I've ever felt before, but I'm really excited about what the future holds.
"Over the next year, I hope to impact my immediate community of Galina and go on to represent Jamaica if I'm successful, and, hopefully, I will be at the national pageant. I really feel there is a space for women to represent and it would just be a total honour for me to get to that position."
After excelling in a social media competition and winning the Best Performance, Most Culturally Aware, and Most Poised prizes, Robb was rewarded with a winner's trophy, a cash prize, and a microwave oven, courtesy of Singer.
Following her victory, she thanked fellow contestants Carice Palmer (runner-up) and Sasha Gay Harris (third place) for their high standard of competition, and praised the organisers for hosting such an influential and successful event.
Robb added: "I think this competition is such a good idea, because it appeals to an audience of young people and really tells them that it is important to give back, and to also be aware of your culture because knowing where you are from really, really sets you in a good position to achieve your goals and objectives."
Denese Morrison, the JCDC's regional manager, acknowledged the good work of outgoing Festival Queen Lazan Frazer, and promised that Robb would receive extensive training over the next two and a half months, in preparation for the national competition on August 1.
She said: "For the last four or five years, St Mary has done really well in the national competition. Usually, we finish in the top five and win Best Performance; that's what happened last year.
"I think the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition is important because it thrives on the spirit of community support and collaboration. The fact is, we live in a constantly evolving global village where traditions and cultures are absorbed and transformed, and, unfortunately, they also sometimes die. This makes the competition all the more relevant to the perpetuation of the Jamaican culture through the selection of parish, national, and international cultural ambassadors."
Morrison added: "Lazan Frazer represented the parish well during her reign. She did community projects, including a health fair, and a high-school tour, which featured guest speakers sharing their life experiences and outlining to the young people the importance of respecting each other."