Minister Arrindell pledges scholarship to USM for Senior Carnival Queen

POSTED: 04/11/11 12:15 PM

~ Contestants received by Parliament, Council of Ministers ~

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Rhoda Arrindell pledged a full scholarship at the University of St. Martin (USM) to the young lady who will be crowned as the new Miss St. Maarten Senior Carnival Queen for Carnival 2011. The promise was made on behalf of the Council of Ministers.

The Minister’s announcement drew smiles on the faces of some of the contestants who paid a courtesy visit to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. Arrindell and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto represented the council while contestants Glenicia Mitchell, Luduska Dongo and Onella Weekes were present. The pageant has nine contestants but the others could not be present due to school and work responsibilities. The contestants introduced themselves to the ministers and shared a little about themselves and the pageant experience thus far.

The ministers were also given a short briefing on the progress of the preparations for the pageant by Secretary of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Michael Granger, who explained that the contestants are working hard until late in the evening, preparing for their big night. Granger also explained that the call is still being made to the business community to support the contestants financially “so they can be prepared to fully represent their country and their culture.”

Arrindell urged the girls to realize that they are examples for their peers and other young women.  She said she was very happy to note that the contestants present placed great emphasis on furthering their education. In that context, the Minister pledged the scholarship to USM. She went on to congratulate the contestants on their effort thus far and urged them not to get discouraged even though raising sponsorship money is somewhat challenging in the current economic climate. She told the contestants to always recognize the importance of being an ambassador to St. Maarten.

Minister Shigemoto relayed greetings to the contestants on behalf of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams. He suggested that the young ladies take up a worthy cause in the community, including charities, in their preparations for the pageant and after.

“Working for these causes not only helps the cause but teaches something as well,” Shigemoto said.

The finance minister advised the contestants to use every opportunity to further their studies then eventually return home to apply what they have learned for the further development of their country.

“To me you are all beautiful, you are all queens,” he said.

President of the SCDF Stuart Johnson who could not be present on Wednesday, said as an educator, he is especially pleased with the scholarship pledge.

“We tell our contestants all the time their education comes above everything else, even the pageant. So we are very happy with the Minister’s pledge,” he said.

Following the meeting with the Ministers, the contestants met with the Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell and parliamentarians Frans Richardson, Leroy DeWeever, Jules James, Patrick Illidge, Ruth Douglass and Lloyd Richardson. All members of Parliament shared words of encouragement with the contestants, reminding them that they are the faces of St. Maarten and whoever will eventually be crowned queen will be the face of St. Maarten.

Arrindell welcomed the contestants to Parliament and congratulated each for the bold step taken in wanting to compete for the Miss St. Maarten crown. Arrindell and well as other MP’s also issued a call to the business community to support the contestants, with MP DeWeever going a step further and asking the girls to approach the members of Parliament to see “if there is something to give from their own pockets.”

MP Frans Richardson, who has supported various carnival participants of the past, lauded the fact that the Senior Pageant is back in strength with nine contestants and complimented the SCDF for the work executed for Carnival 2011 to ensure that the pageant would be back.

“Traditionally Carnival is not only Calypso. The Senior Pageant was a major part of the activities that many people looked forward to,” F. Richardson said.

The MP confirmed that he has a number of requests for assistance from contestants and announced he’d honor them within short.

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