Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
WESTERN BUREAU:Miss Jamaica World 2013 Gina Hargitay credits the support of her family and friends as being among the main catalysts to her success last Sunday night.
"Mentally, it had a lot to do with my family, my friends, and the encouragement I got from them. Whenever I got stressed, I would call one of the many persons who were supporting me and we would talk through it. That was a big part of the mental preparation," she revealed to Outlook.
"My parents have been extremely supportive. They have been the backbone behind this entire operation and I really couldn't have done it without them. My mom has been out as early as I have been every day exercising and taking me wherever I need to be, and she has been the ultimate support system and my father has been just as supportive," she said.
The 18-year-old was born in St Andrew, but spent her formative years in Ocho Rios, St Ann, where she attended the Marjam Preparatory School. She later migrated to London and completed her secondary studies at the More House School, where she recently completed her Advanced Level Examinations in chemistry, history and German.
"I went abroad because my father's business took him there, and I went to high school in London. But every holiday, I am always in Jamaica," she said.
"At the moment, I am looking at pursuing a degree in history and politics. I have also been throwing up the idea of medicine for a long time, so it's a choice between the two. I am on my gap year and I have applied to universities and have been accepted to a few universities in England, but I am also looking at the University of the West Indies, especially since I have gained a scholarship."
Hargitay is a well-rounded sportswoman who is active in a number of sports, including martial arts.
"When I was younger, I used to swim competitively. I swam for St Ann and when I went to England I also swam for the borough of Kensington and Chelsea. I have a green belt in tae kwon do as well, and at school I played a lot of netball, hockey, rounders and tennis," she said.
The daughter of a Hungarian father and Jamaican mother (from Clarendon), Hargitay has three older siblings - one sister and two brothers.
Despite her age, she is well-travelled and has seen much of Europe - Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as well as Caribbean islands such as The Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Trinidad.
Hargitay reveals that she is 'almost' fluent in German, and speaks French, bits of Italian, Spanish and Chinese.
However, for her, there is no place like the country of her birth, and no other people as warm and friendly as Jamaicans.
"What I love most about Jamaica is the vibe from the people, the love you feel wherever you go in Jamaica. I have never been to any other country where people don't know you but they smile at you on the street. I remember moving to England and I would smile at people as I pass by and they would give me looks as though they weren't used to it, and I was so confused at first. It was a complete culture shock because, you know, in Jamaica everybody smiles at everybody else and it's nothing - and I love that."
Hargitay is a staunch admirer of Chinese history and culture and hopes to pursue graduate studies in that Asian country in the near future.
"At the moment, I am thinking I'd like to get a master's (degree) in Chinese history. The Chinese culture is one of the things I find really interesting. I find it extremely intriguing the way the people are, especially in terms of their long-term goals. When most countries make a five-year plan, China will make a 30-year plan and execute it flawlessly, and I think that determination and diligence is admirable," she said.
Hargitay's passions include working with children and health-related causes. She has been involved in charity work in London, including fund-raising marathons for cancer research, such as Race for Life, and with the Eurasia Heart Foundation which provides free heart surgeries to children in developing countries.
She is looking forward to the Miss World finals in Jakarta, Indonesia in September.
"I am just going there hoping to do my best. I know I have an amazing team behind me, and I know they are going to train me very well and I am going to work as hard as I can to make sure we try and bring home a Miss World from Jamaica this year."