IN LIVING COLOUR: Life's been a mixed bag of challenges and triumphs for this island girl.
Ahead of her departure this month for Sanya, China, reigning Miss Jamaica World Dr. Sanneta Myrie has a gabfest with TALLAWAH about power principles, her roots, and finding a road map to womanhood.
On a brisk October morning at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, reigning Miss Jamaica World Sanneta Myrie is reflecting on the harmony of art and science, family life and future plans, looking every inch the picture of decorum and tastefulness in a flattering mini-dress, flawless makeup and heels, her gorgeously coiffed locks sweeping her slender shoulders.
Though she’s a bonafide testament to natural beauty, in conversation there is no denying that Sanneta Myrie is also a young woman of substance, who makes no bones about her Rastafarian and Christian roots, and favours quotes like “The creative adult is the child who never grew up” and Mother Teresa’s admonition “You can’t love people and judge them.” She is wise beyond her 24 years and very pragmatic when it comes to her choices.
And that’s precisely what we’re here to talk about – life-affirming principles and staying true to oneself in the face of myriad challenges. As it turns out, that’s something Myrie is avidly working on, as she gets set to compete or the global crown in Sanya, China, on December 19. But not before picking up her medical doctor credentials from the University of the West Indies (UWI) at a graduation ceremony slated for the Mona Campus on October 30. Sporty, artsy, athletic and a fit and healthy role model for her peers, Dr. Sanneta Myrie is, for us, a fascinating spin on the traditional beauty queen in more ways than one.
Sitting down with TALLAWAH on this Pegasus balcony, enjoying the cool breeze and taking in the picturesque floral scenery before us, she is candid and honest about the girl she was, the woman she’s becoming and what she’s been learning along the way.
Myrie, who spent her formative years at her grandmother’s feet in Petersfield, Westmoreland, largely credits Grandma for providing her with the moral compass that has been her anchor all these years, shaping her identity. “The person I am now has a lot to do with the core principles that I got from her – being grounded and humble,” she says. “Grandma used to say, ‘The humblest calf sucks the most milk’ and that’s always stuck with me. And the importance of valuing yourself, because when you value yourself it makes it easier for you to grow.” Sadly, Myrie’s grandma, a devout Christian, died in February. “She had a hand in raising all of us grandkids. Her heart was so big.”
BUILD A FIRM SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
Is it possible for Christian and Rastafarian principles to co-exist harmoniously in the same person? Just ask Myrie, whose father, Jeffrey, schooled her in Rasta teachings, while Grandma was all about Sunday-morning worship and the Good Book. “It really taught me to find balance between the two faiths,” the St. Andrew High and DeCarteret College alumna recalls. “I learnt about building a loving relationship with God, worship, and just being grateful. As long as you have a relationship with that Supreme Being, whatever you call it, that’s the important thing.”
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, CHASE YOUR DREAMS
An all-rounder since her high-school days (Innovators’ Club, Drama Club), Myrie is equally fond of the sciences and the arts, so much so that she’s had to find a way to give both passions equal attention. “The sciences and the performing arts, more or less, harmonized themselves for me,” admits the dancer/singer/actress and founding member of the increasingly popular Quilt Performing Arts Company. “Once you’re passionate about something and once it can be done, there’s no excuse. I knew I’d have to find a way to feed both of my loves, and I did.”
NEVER STOP LEARNING
A huge fans of books like Who Moved My Cheese? and The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Myrie believes in absorbing something new every day. “As a doctor, I’ll have to be a student for the rest of my life, while refreshing my mind on things I learned in Med School,” reflects the self-proclaimed Garveyite. “In the arts, there are always new techniques to master and new ways of expressing something. I feel like we’re all children, always learning.”
TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY
While in the midst of her studies at UWI, Sanneta’s father suffered two strokes. “I was heartbroken by his illness,” she remembers. Add to that her severe financial struggles as a student striving to finish her degree. “It was hard, a really rough time financially.” So what got her through? “I pray a lot, and I face the challenges head-on. In life, challenges come in various forms and you have to fortify your spirit, and that’s what got me through,” she says, the conviction in her voice unmistakable. “I tell people all the time that finishing Med School makes me feel like I can do anything.” As if in answer to her prayers, she won scholarships to complete her studies. “Without challenges life is flat,” she says. “You have to be grateful for everything. It works for me.”
NURTURE A SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE
Sanneta talks a lot about humanity and philanthropy – and her passion project devised to provide life-saving medical treatment for young children, including a four-year-old girl from upper Clarendon. If there’s one thing she’s most grateful for, it’s having a platform to touch lives and makes a difference. “I am so grateful for everything that has come my way,” she tells me. “I’m a child of the universe, and I know the universe is unfolding as it should, and we have to understand that it’s a part of all of us.” Which brings us to her competing on the world stage later this year. “With this title I want to do Jamaica proud, as well as my family, friends and supporters. I want to be an inspiration and empower young people to become the greatest versions of themselves.”
ALWAYS BE TRUE
Only one question on our list gives Sanneta Myrie pause: Do you consider yourself a role model? “I would say yes,” she responds finally. “It is one of my hopes to inspire young Jamaicans. When you have the potential to accomplish greatness you have to be audacious enough to say, ‘I’m going to do this and follow through.’” She goes deeper. “Things happen twice in life: When you think it and when it happens. So it’s about what lessons to apply to your life.” An admirer of great Jamaicans life Cindy Breakspeare and Professor [Rosemarie] Wright-Pascoe (who can’t live without her Bob Marley and Buju Banton tune!), Myrie is clear about the legacy she’s determined to leave behind. “I want to be a physician dedicated to her patients, a mother, a philanthropist and humanitarian, and an advocate for Jamaican arts and culture,” she notes. “I want to demonstrate the full force of Jamaican culture and spirit and show that we really are the biggest little dot in the world.”
"I want to be an inspiration and empower young people to become the greatest versions of themselves."