Shakira Martin is committed
Olivea Hayles, Gleaner Writer
Despite all the chaos at this year's staging of Miss Jamaica Universe (MJU) sashing and public parade on July 9, the pageant did not fail to fulfil Shakira Martin's dream.
Martin proved to be a beauty with a purpose, as she won the category award for being most aware, and ultimately, the crown of MJU 2011.
However, the term 'beauty with a purpose' seemed to be a duty the winner is obligated to after winning the title. But, for Martin, winning the crown provided her with the perfect opportunity. Quite literally, the crown handed her a speaker and an international audience.
Martin is a victim of the Sickle Cell disease, and has thus inspired her advocacy for Sickle Cell Anaemia.
The newly crowned beauty queen told The Gleaner that she plans to make strides with the disease by, "helping with research and letting people be aware of the options," she said, highlighting pain management and body care as necessary aspects of fighting Sickle Cell disease. "You want to try and prevent this crisis from occurring as much as possible."
Born in New York, Martin was raised between Florida and Jamaica, and completed her education at Broward College. She has been a pre-school teacher for many years.
One lesson Martin was taught, growing up, is to always be real. "Growing up my mother always kept it real with my brother and I, and I think it prepared us for everything," she stated.
Martin is not easily swayed by how cruel people can be, or when things do not go as planned. "That's just life. It's how you play the cards you've been dealt," she advised.
With that said, her confidence in the MJU competition was unwavering as she never felt inferior to any of the contestants. "Never have, never will. We are all humans. We bleed the same. Every girl was equally my competition," Martin said.
According to her, there was never a moment when she lost sight of the fact that everyone was her competition, but, at the same time, every thought that entered her mind was that 'I am Miss Jamaica Universe'.
However, Martin revealed that there were moments when she was down, but she got over it. "I kept fighting," she said in a positive tone.
As she goes on to represent Jamaica at the Miss Universe international pageant, Martin is undoubtedly in the shadow of Yendi Phillipps' accomplishment in the competition last year. Phillipps finished as first runner-up to Mexico's Ximena Navarret, and, without a doubt, Jamaicans will be comparing.
To this, Martin confirmed her self-confidence. "I have confidence in my abilities. I'm not the next Yendi, nor am I trying to be. I'm doing my best to bring the crown back to Jamaica for the first time in history."
After her tenure as MJU, and hopefully Miss Universe, Martin will continue to pursue her career goals in modelling, acting and hosting.