Jasmine Herrera of Guelph is in Toronto this weekend vying for the title of Miss Teen Canada. The Trib’s Jessica Lovell had an email chat with the 17-year-old Lourdes high school student about why she is taking part and her future aspirations.
Q: Why did you decide to take part in the Miss Teen Canada pageant?
A: I first decided to try out for the pageant when I saw an ad on Facebook. I feel like this is a time in my life where I should enjoy my young teen years. Participating in the pageant will give me memories that will last me a lifetime. Also, I feel that I should be giving back to my community more. The Miss Teen Canada pageant devotes itself to giving Canadian teen girls the chance to step up into the spotlight and show the world their own kind of beautiful. If I win this pageant, I will not only win cash prizes in scholarships, but I will also be awarded the privilege to go on a mission trip to Africa to help the Free the Children charity. I love children, so being able to give back to them is certainly something I am passionate about. I want to stand out and make my City of Guelph along with my family and friends proud of me.
Q: Have you ever done anything like it before?
A: Never; this is my first ever pageant. I have been accepted to various modeling agencies before but my parents thought I was too young. Hopefully I will be able to start a modeling career when I turn 18.
Q: Why do you think pageants continue to be relevant today?
A: I believe that pageants promote wholesome women and young girls to be the best and to have good morals. Pageant title-holders are definitely role models to many young girls. Pageants teach girls that to have brains is also important. Regular girls like me are given the chance to show everyone who they are and to be proud of the person they are.
Q: How important is hair and makeup vs. smarts? Is this a beauty contest? How do you deal with people who believe it is?
A: Hair and makeup is important because you need to look presentable. But a girl may look perfect and have the most beautiful dress, but if she is unable to answer the interview questions in a proper way then she will most likely not get a good score. Brains are very important. You need to have both.
Q: How do you think or hope your story might change people’s perspectives on pageants?
A: I hope that people will change their negative perceptions about pageants once they hear my story. I am a regular with dreams to become a teacher. I don’t believe that only beauty will get you through in life. Being in this pageant has taught me that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to get what you want in life, and to chase after your dream. This pageant, if anything, has been a more positive aspect in my life.
Q: How many outfits do you need to have?
A: I need an evening gown, an interview dress, a black dress for the opening number, a swimsuit and outfits for the rehearsals. I‘m going to need a big suitcase!
Q:How do you prepare for this event?
A: I am preparing by exercising and eating healthy. I practice my walk and smile every night. Also, I make a checklist of what I need for the actual pageant day. I watch a lot of videos from past pageants and I get a lot of advice from Miss Canada Universe contestants. I watch the girls’ evening gown segment and watch very closely on how they walk.
Q: What makes you the most nervous about taking part?
A: I am most nervous about being judged while on stage. That is the hardest part about pageants. You set yourself up to be judged. Though I am nervous, it makes me want to work even harder to win.
Q: What is it costing you to take part?
A: A lot of money and work is going into this pageant. I paid the fee of almost $900 on my own. I have also bought my evening gown and interview attire with my own money as well. There are still a lot of things that I need for the pageant. If I’m not at school, I am usually at work. I have been working extra hard so that I don’t have to make my parents pay. My family has given me small amounts to help me here and there, but most of it I have paid for on my very own.
Q: How much of an obligation is the pageant?
A: It feels like a full-time job. Once I am done with homework, I start studying for the pageant. No matter what, I am always busy with something. I think about it 24/7. Even walking down the halls at school, I practice my walk. A lot of hard work goes into preparing for a pageant. People don’t realize that.
Q: How do you balance it with other obligations like school, family, friends?
A: It’s a really hard task to balance out my life right now, but I am sure that all my hard work will pay off in the end. It’s a hectic time. I haven’t got much time to hang out with my friends like I used to, but they are more supportive than ever. I am truly blessed. Being so busy keeps me on track with positive things in life. It’s a busy life, but I wouldn’t want anything else. I’m doing all of this to make my dream come true.
Q: Besides scholarships and mission trips, what are you hoping to win?
A: Lots of opportunities can come from entering this pageant, including traveling. So far, from the 2012 national finalists, girls have traveled to Argentina, Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica!
Q: What else are you hoping to get out of it?
A: I just hope to become a role model for young girls, and show them that every girl is beautiful in their own way. I wish to make my school, family/friends and my city proud of me. Hopefully this will be an opportunity to be heard on the social issues I feel so passionately about. For example, the platform I have chosen for the pageant is raising awareness of mental health problems in teenagers, such as depression. This is important to me because many teens are afraid of seeking help due to fear of judgment.
Q: What do your peers think?
A: My friends and my school are so excited for me! I truly have the most supportive group of people. I feel lucky to have my friends because not many girls in high school have loyal friends like I do. I have a big group of family and friends coming to Toronto with me to cheer me on at the provincial pageant. I can’t wait. I want to win for them.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: I hope to get accepted in the child/youth program for a Bachelor of Applied Sciences at the University of Guelph. I love Guelph and I am not ready to leave home yet. I want to become a kindergarten teacher. I am very passionate about children and I love being around them and working with them. Also in university, I will be continuing my studies in French and Spanish in hopes of becoming qualified to teach languages.
Q: What else would you like people to know about you or the pageant?
A: I hope people are able to see how determined I am to succeed and move further in this pageant. I want to give back to my community and use this social status for good. I believe that I have what it takes to become the Miss Teen Canada World 2013 because of my beauty, brains, energy and enthusiasm. If I succeed in this pageant, I hope to move on to bigger pageants such as Miss Universe Canada.
The best part about this pageant for me, besides the fun and adventure that comes along with competing on the national stage, I’ll be meeting tons of new people, making friends with bright and talented women from all across the country, and helping the global community by working hand in hand with some great charitable organizations like Free the Children.