‘My win is for my father’
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The reigning Miss Renaissance Guyana Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak
The reigning Miss Renaissance Guyana Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak

Miss Renaissance 2017, Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak

IN THE MIDST of adversity, she not only travailed to the end, but 37-year-old Jennifer Lall-Shiwbalak dominated the judges’ scorecard above eleven other delegates and won the prestigious Miss Renaissance Guyana 2017 at the National Cultural Centre on August 19.
Winning a pageant of such calibre takes confidence, determination and focus and while the mother of two was confident of the win, her focus was challenged when she lost her father and strongest supporter in the weeks leading up to the pageant.

“During the preparation, he was ill all along and he died eventually. That was the biggest challenge because to continue and then win, it is like an accomplishment now,” the Queen told the Pepperpot Magazine.
“I had to concentrate on me. If he was alive he would have wanted me to do my best. My father introduced me to the Renaissance Pageant. In 2003, my father was the person who saw the Miss Renaissance in the papers but I was too young to enter,” she said.

She was aware that the pageant’s preparation included experiences and knowledge which would benefit her for a lifetime, so Jennifer said she found strength in her Christianity and persevered to the end. Her tasks on pageant night included making impressive appearances in sequences of introduction, cultural presentation, corporate attire, evening gown and intelligence.

The senior English teacher at Diamond Secondary School addressed legal issues affecting senior citizens in Guyana, including challenges surrounding pension, medical care and making wills, and has strongly advised against waiting until it is too late to put systems in place.
“They have challenges with regard to their pension, adequate healthcare and making wills because sometimes they sign their documents over to people and so in this, I would have been able to advise others to don’t wait until it’s too late. You need to familiarise yourselves with the laws today, go to NIS (National Insurance Scheme), be updated about your contribution status and all of that,” she said.

It was a social issue’] which she had little or no knowledge of but dedicated herself to addressing with genuine concern for Guyana’s elderly.
Her cultural presentation was a blend of dance and drama which told a story of the arrival of an Indian woman on a sugar plantation in British Guyana, and how she manoeuvred her way into a diverse cultural atmosphere and still managed to preserve and freely present her own. It was a story entitled “Preservation of our traditions, celebration of our cultures”.
All her competition outfits were designed by Mwanza Glenn, and she was sponsored by past students, friends and relatives.

The Renaissance Queen said that her experiences during the pageant will never be forgotten, particularly her chance to dance with one of Guyana’s best instructors, Vivienne Daniel.
Jennifer has been modelling since 1993 and has previous titles to her name, including Miss Covent Garden, Miss Bartica Cultural Show and Miss Guyana Phagwah in 2002. In comparison to other pageants, she said the benefits of being in Miss Renaissance Guyana are amazing.

“I actually lost some weight for free because I went through some rigorous dance routines. I was able to connect with a bevy of courageous women in Guyana. It was amazing just meeting with them and being able to understand what goes on in their world of work. I was fortunate to be in groups where Ms [Negla] Brandis organised different lectures for the contestants. For the first time, I was able to see pictures of what Iwokrama looks like. We had a city tour [with Wilderness Explorers],” she recalled..

“In the other pageants the ladies are now venturing into a career, but with the Miss Renaissance Pageant, we are already on our career path, so we’re able to share what we’re doing. It’s not all about body beauty, it’s about inner beauty and intelligence.”

She made external competition absent and focused on herself with a goal of becoming the one to promote women empowerment in Guyana and lead her students to a hopeful future.
“I wanted to be a role model in school and generally to promote women empowerment in Guyana. My biggest competitor was the woman in the mirror. I always wanted to beat her, nobody else. I was focused on what I was doing because I knew that there were lots of people in the audience who would have been disappointed and I didn’t want to disappoint them,” Jennifer said.

As a wife and mother of two within a supportive family, Jennifer expects nothing but the best and is happy to be part of a team of incredible women under the patronage of International Pageant Specialist, Negla Brandis who has been setting superior standards in the arena.

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