GIRL POWER: 2017 queen Dainalyn Swaby shares lens time with runners-up Ava-Gail Lindsay and Naresha Jackson.
IT was a historic night inside the National Arena on Tuesday, as the bread basket parish, St. Elizabeth, got its first hold on the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen title, thanks to the impressive efforts of Dainalyn Swaby, a poised and passionate 24-year-old.
The writing was on the wall from early in the night, but by the time the sectional prize winners were announced, Swaby was a shoo-in for the crown. The Hampton School graduate picked up awards for Most Culturally Aware and Most Poised. In addition to those awards and the championship trophy, she took home a $450,000 cash prize, a $200,000 grant to support her national project and an additional $180,000 to fund the project.
St. Ann’s Naresha Jackson won second place (and the award for Most Active in the Community), while third place went to St. Mary’s Ava-Gail Lindsay. Westmoreland’s Daniela Woodbine and St. Catherine’s Josselle Fisher completed the top five. Ashley Anderson of Hanover was adjudged the Most Congenial contestant.
The history-making Swaby was over the moon, following her coronation. The chance to win her home parish’s first Festival Queen title gave her the extra push to enter the competition and do well. “I am elated,” she gushed to TALLAWAH, finally getting some breathing space after the phalanx of photographers and well-wishers had dissipated. “I wanted to be the first winner for St. Elizabeth; that was actually my motivation for entering. It takes confidence to do this, but I was encouraged by the people around me, so that made it easier.”
‘Learn, Earn, Return’ is the working title for the national project she will be launching in the coming weeks. “It’s an entrepreneurship-based project, and it’s focused on getting young people to create more job opportunities for themselves, and we will be working to create entrepreneurship opportunities for young people,” explains the fast-talker, who works in communications. “More young Jamaicans should be job creators and not job seekers.”
She’s also looking forward to doing work in the capacity of cultural ambassador. Says Swaby, “One of my goals is to help young people connect to our culture because the preservation of our cultural legacy is something we must take seriously.”