It takes courage and determination to reach the top.These are the words of Millicent Karmeny Barty, 19, who won the 2009 Miss Solbrew, Sports and Culture Pageant in Honiara over the weekend.
Miss Barty was among seven queens representing seven sports that will participate in the Pacific Mini Games in Cook Islands next month.
Competing as Miss Triathlon, the young girl of Santa Ana and Langalanga parental heritage said that being part of the pageant was "finding my way to get involved with the community".
"Having been away from home for such a long time, I felt like this was my way of being involved in some events in our community, to be connected to people around me."
Speaking on the experience of being crowned, Miss Barty described the moment as "an unexpected win that truly overwhelmed me".
Miss Barty performed traditional dances from the nation's nine (9) provinces to grab the Best Talent award.
She also won the Best Sarong award and a tie with Miss Weightlifting for the Best Coconut award.
Miss Barty who was without chaperon and sponsor for some weeks said she was not into the pageant in the initial start.
"Three weeks prior to the crowning night, I had a chaperon and a strong team behind her, which really motivated me and made me feel part of the beauty pageant."
Miss Barty said over the weeks of preparation, "I have experienced everything from being so happy to being so downright depressed".
"But the pageant, I believe, really helps female participants to be independent."
Miss Barty was due to leave for London in England over the weekend she was crowned to study BA Design and Business Management at the University of Goldsmith, but has deferred her study as a gesture for her contribution to the Solomons.
She has postponed her study until after the Miss South Pacific Pageant show in November in Fiji.
Her interests include designs, dancing, music, socialising and charity work.
"I have so much sense of appreciation for girls who participate in pageants because it is beyond beauty. It is about bringing girls out of their shell and it is so much work than people stereotypically think about beauty pageants. It's about the amount of effort and time that these beauty queens put in the pageant."
For future beauty pageant participants, Miss Barty advices young female to "just be yourself".
"Don't let any outside influences affect your mind-set to win. Confidence is the key, that's basically the secret to things like this. When time gets hard and you feel down at any stage, just put yourself in the right mindset and tell yourself that you can get through this."
The Miss Solbrew, Sports and Culture pageant first runner up is Miss Table Tennis, Rabobo Toma, second runner up is Miss Rugby 7s, Susie Lam and third runner up is Miss Weightlifting, Lyndah Tito.
The float parade last Thursday was won by Miss Table Tennis, Rabobo Toma.
Miss Photogenic and Miss Personality is Miss Rugby 7s, Susie Lam.
The pageant show is part of the National Olympic Committee Solomon Islands (NOCSI)'s fundraising for the Mini Games next month.