The 22nd Annual Ms. Caribbean U.S. Beauty Pageant returned in full force last Sunday at Martin Luther King High School auditorium in Philadelphia.
This year, the pageant added a Ms. Teen Caribbean U.S. category.
Contestants in the Ms. Caribbean category were: Shanece Morgan representing St. Kitts and Nevis, Raena Lebourne representing Trinidad and Tobago, Janay Rodriguez representing Puerto Rico and Yasan Chang representing Jamaica.
In the new Teen category, Jolie Curbin represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Juana Acevedo represented the Dominican Republic, and Siani Green and Tinayah Greene represented the U.S. Yes, there is always a U.S. candidate in the Ms. Caribbean U.S. Pageant.
The first part of the competition was the cultural presentation by each contestant, wearing either a traditional costume or a costume that sported the colors of their country’s flag. They introduced the audience to their country through vivid descriptions of the beaches, the food, the folk dances, the music and the people. That was followed by the swimwear, talent and evening gown segments.
We have got to give the Shanece Morgan supporters their props. A third of the people attending the pageant wore green T-shirts with her name. They were an enthusiastic bunch who cheered their candidate on every time she came on stage. There was no mistaking who they came out for.
We spoke to Sheila Morgan, Shanece’s mom, who made it clear that she rooted for everyone. “Some of the girls did not have anyone there to support them,” she said. “All of the girls got along. They all helped each other. I was there making sure that everyone was OK, that they were good. It was only at the end that I was really cheering hard for my daughter.” Morgan said the contestants referred to her as the Pageant Mom.
Keith Morgan, uncle to Shanece, said this was the first pageant he has been to. “It was a positive event,” he said. “The girls enjoyed themselves and got along well. The audience had a good time. No matter what country you’re from, we’re all one big family. ... I enjoyed the whole show.”
We saved the best part for last. Everything that took place during the evening led up to the crowning of Yasan Chang (Miss Jamaica) as Ms. Caribbean U.S. and Jolie Curbin (Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines) as Ms. Caribbean Teen U.S. They were thrilled to accept the titles.
Aron Chang, the mother of Yasan Chang, said that entering the pageant was exciting for her family, but also nerve-racking because entering was a sudden decision. “Actually, we had no idea there was a Ms. Caribbean Pageant,” she said. “My daughter was approached by designer Rose of Kylie Rose designs, who informed Yasan of the pageant. Rose was made aware of the pageant after being approached by the association to sponsor contestants. My daughter made the decision to enter the pageant because of the opportunity that the platform would provide. Her goal is to advocate for positive change, and empowering change among the younger generation.”
Ultimately, Yasan said she wants to teach people about taking care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. Essentially, improving self is taking care of the environment because internal growth is transformed externally.
Yasan attends the Community College of Philadelphia and will transfer to Eastern University in the spring. She said her major is environmental science because she wants to be a scientist in that field. Ideally, she would like to advocate for implementing social structures that promote sustainability and environmental conservation. She said she is thankful for the opportunity to serve and influence positive change.
The Teen winner, Jolie Curbin, 13, is an eighth-grade honor student and a beginning figure skater. She is an avid fashion and music enthusiast.
Petrikah Hope, her mother, said she felt overwhelmed when her daughter won the title. “It was hard work but Jolie wanted to do it,” she said. “She was really excited and happy. She said, ‘I did it mom.’ This was her first pageant.”
Kimberly Richards, Claudia Morris and Shaffiqua Matthew, family and friends were all there to support Jolie. Matthew said that it was refreshing to see girls of different cultures working so well together in a pageant.
First runner-up in the Miss category was Raena Lebourne, and first runner-up in the Teen category was Teniyah Green.
We commend Yolanda Wallace, founder/CEO, and Denise Pavlin, president of the Miss Caribbean U.S. Beauty Pageant, for a job well-done. We look forward to the 23rd Annual Pageant.
To be a volunteer or to enter next year’s pageant, visit misscaribbean.org.