Trinidad and Tobago is known for many things: carnival celebrations, great food and diverse culture being some of them. Trini people exhibit great pride for their country and support anyone who represents the precious twin island republic with bold passion. Saskia Hosein, 21, who was crowned Miss Caribbean U.S. 2016, is an outstanding example of such a person. The Miss Caribbean U.S. Beauty Pageant is a Philadelphia-based corporation that gives contestants the chance to proudly represent their Caribbean countries as they contend for the crown. Hosein competed with other contestants that represented Dominica, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Vincent and Puerto Rico. By representing Trinidad and Tobago with intelligence, confidence, flair and a humbly opinionated demeanor, Hosein claimed first place in the pageant.
Although, Hosein left Trinidad at the early age of seven, she remains connected to and proud of both her Indo-Trinidadian and American heritage. With pageantry being as hectic as it is, Hosein impressively juggles it with a part-time job as well as being a full-time nursing student at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, where she is also president of the Model United Nations club. In addition to her own ambition, she is fueled by the constant love and support of her family, especially her mother. Ms. Hosein earnestly advocates for juvenile diabetes, to raise awareness and ultimately find a cure for her younger sister who is affected by the disease. Saskia Hosein is a Trini who truly represents her nation while successfully building her own future with the intention of making a difference in the world, or in her words, “doing the best I can.” I was honored to catch up with her before her reign as Miss Caribbean U.S. ends in July 2017.
Q: How did you get into pageantry?
A: I started when I was seven years old with the Miss American co-ed pageant association. I won my first title as the 2003 Miss New York petit princess. From entering, I instantly had a boost in self-confidence and learned how to communicate via public speaking.
Q: What was it like to compete and win the 2016 Ms. Caribbean USA beauty pageant?
A: It was a bit nerve-wracking. I hadn’t lived in Trinidad since I was seven. I needed to find a way to compete in the different portions of the pageant while still representing my culture. Since the best representation of Trinidad & Tobago is carnival, I asked my uncle— to create a costume for the speech portion of the contest. My intro began with “Cheers To Life” by Voice and from there I began my speech. For the talent portion**, I did an Indian dance with two traditional chutney soca songs and one traditional Indian song. I wanted to highlight that I am of Indo-Trinidadian ancestry. In the U.S., a lot of people who are not familiar with the Caribbean are unaware that there are East-Indians that reside in Trinidad.
*Ms. Hosein’s uncle designs for Jagessar costume production in Trinidad and Tobago.
**Different portions of the pageant competition include the country’s introduction, a talent portion and interview questions.
Q: How do you balance being a full-time nursing student, working two part-time jobs, serving as president of the Model UN at St. Francis College and pageantry?
A: It’s all about balancing priorities. I’m out of the house for six out of the seven days of the week for about 14 hours a day. The pageant is very forgiving of my school schedule. I work with my pageant director to make sure that there isn’t anything scheduled during school. My job is very flexible and accommodates my school schedule. I enjoy being busy. When I have an abundance of downtime, I often feel like I am not doing anything at all. Most times, balancing everything comes down to discipline and determination. As a result of that, I currently have a 3.7 GPA, and I am on the dean’s list.
Q: Do you think your Trinidadian heritage has led to your success in various aspects of your life, especially as a student?
A: West Indians and Caribbean Americans are raised with a strict upbringing. My mom always stressed the importance of being respectful and having respect for others, especially for one’s self and elders. My mom provides constant support and is the reason behind my success. I work extremely hard to make my mom proud and to get A’s.
Q: What is your favorite memory from growing up in Trinidad?
A: My favorite memory of Trinidad is eating pelau with ketchup (don’t judge) on Maracas Beach. It is one of my favorite beaches and I used to lime with family very often.
Q: Talk to us about some of the work you are doing with the Juvenile Diabetes research fund.
A: My sister was diagnosed at two years old with juvenile diabetes. It was shocking to my family, since young people don’t normally have diabetes. I currently use my pageantry platform to raise money and awareness for theJuvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF). I was invited to a summer bash to speak about the cause and helped hand out flyers about JDRF, all while wearing my Ms. Caribbean U.S. crown and sash. From those efforts, I raised over $100 that night. This October, I look forward to participating in the juvenile diabetes walk. One day, I hope that they find a cure for diabetes, so that my sister wouldn’t have to go through the daily hardships of the disease.
Q: Do you have plans to compete in other pageants?
A: I do not want to compete in the next Ms. Caribbean U.S. pageant. I want to expand my horizons and try to compete in other pageants. There is a Ms. Caribbean NY pageant which is very different from the one I competed for in Philadelphia. In terms of long-term goals, I would really like to enter the Miss America pageant.
To learn more about the Ms. Caribbean US pageantry please visit:http://www.misscaribbean.info/