Leonard urges contestants to use pageant to inspire others

Former queen of several pageant, local entrepreneur and board member of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce Tamara Leonard took some time last Friday night to lay a reality check on the contestants of the 2012 contestants for Teen and Senior Carnival Queen Pageants.

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Leonard was invited to talk to the contestants about friendliness with Mr. Friendly, the mascot of St. Maarten Superhost, another initiative of Leonard’s. While Mr. Friendly did make an appearance, Leonard decided to go a little deeper with the contestants of both pageants. She impressed upon them that by being in the pageants, their lives have automatically elevated to the realm of ambassador. As a result, she asked the contestants to realize and respect the importance of that title. She told the girls that being in the pageant will have a direct impact on their lives, sometime not always good.
Leonard arranged the contestants in a half circle in front of her and asked them one simple question: “Why are you in this pageant.” She told each contestant that they are representing her and every other St. Maartener even in the local Carnival pageants and even more so if they win and have to travel as queen.
When speaking about their aspirations, Leonard shared excerpts from her own life story, one of a parent fighting her way to four college degrees and of a person who still has many goals to reach, no stopping in sight. Most importantly however, Leonard told the contestants that she too basked in the spotlight of the pageants.
“But it’s one thing to be in the spotlight where it’s all about you, it’s quite another to be that person to inspire others,” Leonard told the contestants, stressing that as young people they should always strive to inspire others, their peers in particular, through good positive deeds. She urged them to use the pageant to be more than just a contestant.
She also encouraged the young ladies to stay up to date with what is going on in the news and with their island. Leonard focused heavily on the importance tourism and gave the contestants example of how their stated future professions could impact tourism. She went on to congratulated them for taking the step to participate in the pageant.

Mr. Friendly appeared during the night to present each contestant with gift items and a certificate with the friendly pledge written on it. Each contestant pledged to be friendly to her family and friends and everyone she meets as of the date of receiving the certificate. They pledged to join Mr. Friendly and St. Maarten Superhost in bringing back friendliness to the island.