‘Nothing is wrong with who you are’

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Miss Emancipation Queen 2018 Gabrelle Cummings, left, and First Runner-Up, Dr. Colleen Bovell share an embrace as Cummings is announced as the queen (Samuel Maughn photo)

Miss Emancipation 2018 queen is all about self-love

WHEN 21-year-old Gabrelle Cummings entered the Miss Emancipation 2018 pageant she did it to make a point – that dark-skinned girls, with kinky, natural hair can be queens too.

And that point was well established when she prevailed over six other young ladies and was crowned the Miss Emancipation queen last Saturday night at the National Cultural Centre.
After going through the rounds, the former St Stanislaus College student was crowned to take over the reign from 2017 queen Amaniah Cort.

An English teacher at the East Ruimveldt Secondary School, Gabrelle spoke of how her loving students were the ones who motivated her to do the pageant.

“I have students who would consistently “hype” me up. But it always came with, ‘but Miss, you could model you just got to lighten up your skin.’ Or students who will constantly state that they wished they were lighter or if they had the “good hair”, but the thing that triggered me was when the students were being penalised for wearing their natural hair in styles that were acceptable for other hair types. That was the main [reason] I entered so that my students can see that nothing is wrong with who they are,” Gabrelle shared.

She wants to be a shining example for others who feel they don’t live up to expectations because she herself struggled with issues of self-acceptance when she was younger.

“I learned pretty early that if you are insecure about something and people know they will pick on it. No amount of movies prepared me for secondary school life and no matter how much I pretended that I wasn’t bothered by my weight or my complexion, I was still struggling,” she said.

But thanks to a nice support system, she made the decision a long time ago that she was going to be happy with who she was and no one was going to influence that, and she’s never looked back since. Now she wants to pass on the encouragement to others.

Gabrelle (second from left)is all smiles after being announced as the Miss Emancipation 2018 queen. She is flanked by, from left, Second Runner-Up, Feliciann Elliot; First Runner- Up, Dr. Colleen Bovell and Third Runner-Up, Shelisa Depradine (Samuel Maughn photo)

“The strength came from my best friend after he sat me down and told me that absolutely nothing is wrong with me. And he made me pick women who I thought were perfect and showed me similarities I had with them and told me that’s how I am seen. From that day, I started to look at myself through new lenses and have successfully used his technique with my students,” she related.

Growing up in a household as the only girl, with a lot of brothers, Gabrelle describes herself as a “girly girl”, with a childhood that was always fun.

Though having initial aspirations of being a lawyer, several factors instead propelled her towards the teaching profession and it turned out to be a match made in heaven; a love that started for her when she was just 19 years old.

While attending the Cyril Potter College of Education, she did her teaching practice at her alma mater, before being moved over to teaching at the East Ruimveldt Secondary School.
“My students are the ones who make my teaching experience amazing. I have brilliant kids with so many overwhelming personalities, I just can’t get bored in this profession,” she gushed. “Honestly I wanted to pursue Law. However, Guyana has an amazing [number] of jobless qualified lawyers and I didn’t want to be a professional student, so I joined CPCE because my father wouldn’t let me join the GDF and I can honestly say it has been uphill from there.”

The Miss Emancipation pageant was not the first time Gabrelle had tried her hand at pageants, and may not be the last. She tried out for the 2014 Miss Talented Teen pageant. Unfortunately, she had to drop out to focus more on her academic obligations at the time. That same year she also joined forces with her mom to enter the Mother and Daughter Pageant, where they finished third.

“I would join another pageant if it is like the Miss Emancipation Queen pageant. I’d join another pageant that isn’t about just money and beauty. If there is another pageant that allows me to learn new things I’ll surely join,” she established.

She’s especially motivated from all the fun she had training and preparing for the Miss Emancipation pageant.

“The experience was just amazing. The best part of it would be our routine rehearsals when we met Delisha Wright, Miss Emancipation 2016. She is fun and so light-hearted and made it easy for us to learn,” she said. “There was also the day of our photo shoot which was amazing we had a drum and we were all dancing and making up jingles and it was pure genuine fun.”