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"All White Ms. CSA Pageant" celebrates Caribbean culture

by Margaret Stewart - News Editor
Wed, Apr 3rd 2019 11:30 am
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The Caribbean Student Association (CSA) hosted its “All White Ms. CSA Pageant” this past Saturday, March 30. Held in the Seymour Union just hours after Accepted Students’ Day, the Ballroom was converted to host the late-night event. Gold streamers adorned the entryway and the tables had vases of white carnations and baby’s breath to match the theme.

At 7:30 p.m., attendees began trickling in to one of the many events CSA hosts throughout the semester that celebrate Caribbean heritage and diversity here on the campus.

A student at the college who works in the Union Box Office Genesis Candelario, talked about the anticipated crowd for not only the pageant but also for Passa Passa, CSA’s after-party that immediately followed the pageant as well.

“One hundred and thirty five tickets were sold to the pageant,” Candelario said. “The after-party is sold out.”

From dresses to jeans, attendees were dressed to impress. Most attendees wore something white along with an accent color to make the outfit really stand out.

CSA President Nyomi McDonald stunned in a royal blue backless sequined gown. D.J. Cletus came up from New York City to host this event and kicked it off at 8:17 p.m.

“Turn up for this year’s 2019 contestants,” Cletus said to begin the show.

He got the crowd hyped up for Ms. Puerto Rico, Yleinna Rodriguez, Ms. Haiti, Camryn St Vil and Ms. Jamaica, Shanay Lawrence.

The three contestants and their escorts began the night with a sultry dance. The contestants all wore white, sequined fringed dresses while their escorts all donned white button up dress shirts, black ties and black shorts.

The first event was dubbed an “Introduction to Style.” 

“Style is a reflection of your attitude and personality,” McDonald said.

 The opening segment gave the contestants the opportunity to introduce their big personalities as they danced and strutted their way down the runway to music that reflected who they are.

In between the first and second events, the MC took a moment to acknowledge the diversity of the contestants, and Cletus celebrated the diversity present in the audience as well.

The contestants got the opportunity to show off the country they chose to represent during the “Rep your Country” portion of the pageant.

Lawrence took the stage first and shared a little bit about herself and her family. Lawrence said that she is first generation American even though the rest of her family was born and raised in Jamaica. Hoping to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology, Lawrence plans to get her Jamaican citizenship and get involved in their political system.

St Vil followed Lawrence with an energetic Haitian dance. Dressed in the Haitian flag, St Vil showed pride for her country in a conglomeration of both modern and traditional elements.

Rodriguez, though not Puerto Rican herself, had been to Puerto Rico during her spring break. 

As a way to share a part of Puerto Rico with the audience, Rodriguez provided a salsa dance class featuring some brave volunteers. Celebrating Puerto Rican’s love of dance, Rodriguez threw a mini dance party which hyped up the volunteers, the judges and the audience.

An intermission that was meant to be only 10 minutes lasted for 45 minutes, but featured a variety of different Caribbean foods and Tampico drinks. The intermission gave both contestants and attendees the chance to relax and re-group for the second half of the show.

The second half of the show began at roughly 9:30 p.m. and featured another dance made up of the three contestants. Each one put their own personal flair to the choreographed dance with all participants getting their own time to shine in the spotlight. They exuded confidence as they danced together in the previously mentioned white, fringe dresses.

According to the CSA e-board, “Talent is passion and skill coming from one’s inner being.” Talent was what the pageant focused on next.

Lawrence performed a fun and flirty dance accompanied by three back up dancers that got the audience excited again.

St Vil sang a song in French about a girl who came upon some unfortunate circumstances.

Rodriguez performed an inspirational spoken recording about her own struggles and the way she overcomes her self-image and self confidence while painting her own reflective self-portrait.

“You are strong, graceful, powerful and, more than anything, enough,” Rodriguez said.

The final section of the show was the beauty portion. However, rather than focusing on the physical beauty of all of the contestants, the contest focused on the importance of self-confidence. Each contestant made the runway theirs, and they owned it. They walked out with their respective escorts who cheered them on and sent them on their way, strutting down the runway in order to be asked a question by one of the three judges.

The judges asked the contestants questions such as: What is the biggest problem facing the working business woman today, what are three qualities you believe Ms. CSA should have and how do you think the Caribbean would benefit from female leadership? All three contestants provided eloquent answers.

As the night began to wrap up, McDonald made a point to thank all those who helped make the pageant happen, specifically her e-board.

McDonald also recognized the hard work of the participating judges for the evening. Two of which, Men of Color President, Daniel Hernandez and former CSA President, Aaliyah Johnson each had history with the pageant itself. Both were former Mr. and Ms. CSA, respectively. 

“I was very surprised when I won because my competition was so good,” Johnson said. “I was excited and honored to be chosen as a judge. I know what it takes as a contestant and behind the scenes, I was honored they even thought of me.”

There was a brief pause in the night as McDonald was surprised by club members who bought her a cake in order to celebrate her birthday.

The night ended with the declaration of winners. St Vil was awarded second runner-up, Lawrence received first runner-up and Rodriguez was crowned 2019 Ms. CSA.

 

brockport.news@gmail.com | @MargotPolo96

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