Nov. 7, 2004 Shakima Stoutt's life's motto reads, "The only truly happy man is a fighting optimist who gets to make a living and gives to make a life." It was that fighting optimist the audience saw heading into the Miss UVI pageant Saturday evening on equal footing with the other contestants. But at the end of three hours during which the women showcased their talents, ambassadorial skills and how they could carry off an evening gown, Stoutt had taken her place a step ahead of the others.
Stoutt, of the British Virgin Islands, was crowned the new Miss University of the Virgin Islands. The competition, called "Caribbean Queens Beyond Beauty," was held at the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
Stoutt seems to be successful in whatever she takes on. Four years ago Stoutt was crowned Miss British Virgin Islands, participated in the Miss Universe pageant in Puerto Rico and traveled to Germany with the B.V.I. Tourist Board. She has earned an associate's degree in business administration from the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, is now a junior in the pre- med bachelor of science program at UVI, and plans someday to open a women's health clinic in the B.V.I.
First runner-up was Khalilah Gordon of St. Croix. Gordon is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in speech communication and theater, with a focus on journalism and acting.
Second runner-up was Tamica Lawrence, a sophomore at UVI pursuing a double major in business management and hotel and restaurant management. Lawrence is a former Miss Nevis.
The audience got their first look at the three contestants in a dance number they did with Code Blue, a local dance group. Next were competitions in business wear, ambassadorial presentation and talent. Stout performed a monologue about freedom dressed as a mocko jumbie. She then took off the stilts and danced to a song from the Broadway version of "Lion King." Judging by the audience's applause, the most popular talent segment was by Gordon. She performed a monologue entitled, "What if I am a Black Woman?"
In a letter, UVI President LaVerne Ragster wished all three candidates success. "They are great representatives of some of the best characteristics of our student body intelligent, talented, committed, and they demonstrate the self pride, determination and sense of community that we see in our best students," she said.
The most weighted parts of the competition were the ambassadorial presentation, question and answer segment and personal interview, which took place on Oct. 29.
In the end, Stoutt walked away with prizes in the categories of Miss Photogenic, Best Ambassadorial Presentation and Best Evening Wear. Gordon won Miss Congeniality, Most Eloquent/Intellectual Speaker and Best Performing Talent.
Stage appearances by the candidates were interspersed with singing and dancing from local talent, with the all-male vocal trio B.E.S.T. even being called back to do an encore while the judges tallied their votes. Everyone who missed seeing Miss Virgin Islands Kinila Callendar in the Miss America Pageant this year got to see her perform the dance she did in her competition.
As the winner of Miss UVI, Stoutt will receive a full academic/room and board scholarship for the year of her reign, and she will act as an ambassador for the school. Stoutt will also represent UVI in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Queen Competition in Atlanta.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.