On July 15th myself and the other Miss Teen Canada- World 2012 delegates had the privilege of listening to four amazing women at the Miss Teen Canada- World 2012 Mentor Night. It was a night of laughs, talks about overcoming adversity and challenges, and motivational moments.
Dr. Natalie Archer came to speak to us. She is proud to be a dentist, and building a career as a hospital dentist. Reminding us that, “you are not fully dressed without a smile.” She spoke of keeping lots of opportunities open, explaining how no one can take away your education, which is pretty powerful. Make everything negative into a positive she explains, making excuses creates a negative wheel, expressing how we must embrace new opportunities. Dr. Archer referenced a spider’s web, and how we must build our web, because you never know where we will catch the fly. We must prepare for rough challenges, and always take the time to plan in advance. Also, we must be able to work together, yet create our own destiny, and take calculated business risks. She claimed that 38% of women are the main source of income within their families, and for strong relationships one must: pick a good partner, realize it is going to be work everyday, and must be accepting of your possible new roles within the relationship. Also, she explained how young people can now smell a fake from a mile away, and aren’t afraid to call them out. However she also spoke about how important is to get involved!
We had the privilege of listening to Melani Chong. Melani Chong is an inspiring woman. She was a Canadian Ford model, mother of two children, and after returning to school, developed a personalized skincare line called Soya Boutique. Melani was a dedicated athlete throughout high school, believing you have to give your all and go for your dream. Her father one day asked her if she was interested in modeling because he had heard there was going to be scouts at there mall soon. Not too sure about it and truly dedicated to sports, Melani (17 years old) didn’t think she would go. However, one day her father tricked her into going to the mall the day the agencies were there. Melani went and had her photo taken, and although she did not expect anything to come out of it, two weeks later she received a call from Sutherland Models, explaining that her picture had been chosen as one of the top photos, and before she knew it, she was signed to Ford Models. While still being actively involved in the modeling industry, Melani became a stylist for photo shoots, explaining that you have to “embrace all your opportunities that come from an experience,” and also reminding us that we have “core dreams,” and although someone may say ‘why don’t you try this’ causing you yo stray away from your dream, but always be able to learn from those advantages and disadvantages. Melani had always had a passion for health and beauty, believing “health is the core,” so after returning to school and talking the necessary classes, she began her own skin care line called Soya Boutique. She believes beauty is in simplicity, so she created her skincare line to be all natural, and contain local products. She explained how it is important to never stop developing you skills and talents, and while it is important to have a core message, it is also important to share that message with others. Melani continued to explain how while she was teaching classes in modeling she was constantly learning, expressing the quote “wisest is he who knows what he does not know” by Socrates. She explained how it was important to accept that you are always changing, but it is also important to always maintain your passion. Your passion may grow, but don’t lose your sense of passion, because from passion comes drive, which leads to core actions. She also explained how the big picture is longevity, which is a healthy basis, and maintaining your integrity to your dream. The modeling industry is 80% rejection and 20% acceptance, explained Melani, continuing to explain to be persistent with what you want and to not give up, and to learn about rejection, because it is rejection that makes you push forward, and helps you always develop into something new. Remember: Passion + Drive + Action = Longevity!
We also had the privilege of listening to Katrina Hadden. Katrina is a size 12 model and proud of it! She is also a trainer, and author of the book: Making It In High Heels, while also specializing in: Stress Management, Personal Development, Work-Life Balance and Health and Wellness. Katrina believed it was important for her to relate her speech to some of our stories. She explained how throughout her childhood years she was always ‘the tall one,’ and she was afraid of elementary school because she was bullied. She was called names such as ‘Big Bird’ and ‘Green Giant.’ “Being called names gets to you” expressed Katrina, so she tried to ignore the bullying and focus her attention to sports. She was especially good at basketball, being able to visualize the shot going in before the ball even left her hand, She dreamed of playing in the WNBA, however she damaged her knee, and could no longer continue on to play college basketball. “An injury can leave you without a plan,” she explained so you have to be able to create a new goal, and it is important to have other dreams and interests. Her friends suggested she try modeling. Although she wasn’t sure if she wanted to begin modeling because she had been so dedicated to sports, Katrina went to an agency, and ended up being taken on as a model. After a little while Katrina began to realize she was not fitting into the category of a model or a plus size model, and was even being asked to put on padding to make herself larger for the photos. Due not knowing which “category” she belonged to Katrina developed an eating disorder, but soon over came that personal challenge by surrounding herself with people who liked and were interested in nutrition. Due to surrounding herself with people interested in nutrition, she learned more about nutrition and health, and became a trainer. However she was still interested in modeling, so she took a leap of faith and moved to Toronto, with the goal in mind that she would one day be on billboards, and was not going to let anything stand in her way. Katrina changed agencies to Ben Barry, who embraces diversity. One day she was sent to an audition for a Panasonic commercial, and got the job because she had the confidence and energy that she did not previously have. She has then continued to walk in Toronto Fashion Week, for a Project Runway designer. The first time she stepped on the stage the audience began applauding and cheering, which was a special moment for Katrina, because it showed her that she was not the only one who wanted diversity in the fashion world. She explained how confidence is important and takes time to build, but you have to use what you have, and be unique in your own way, and always remember that you have a place. She reminded us that to be a role model you must: take care of your body and health, find a way to forget about the world through interests, attitude/gratitude- remembering to thank and acknowledge others, and forgiveness- life is too short to hold onto negative energy.
Alexandra Orlando came to speak to us also; she is an Olympic athlete, and motivational speaker. She started by explaining that we all have many first experiences throughout our lives, and stating that you don’t figure out who you are in the next three years, you find out who you want to be and start to understand why, and begin to truly realize how strong you are, and a reminding us we are much stronger than we think we are. She also explained that everyone hits rock bottom at one point or another, and when she hit her rock bottom, after dreaming of being an Olympian and then not qualifying for the Olympic games, she wrote a tell all book even though she is a private person. She went through some of her diaries and took out quotes and song lyrics that helped her through her rough period, and reminding us that it is important that we do not feel alone, and there are many people that may be going through the same things. “People don’t see the behind the scenes, and the struggles” she exclaimed, and expressed how if her stories could help just one person it would be worth it. Alexandra also reminded us of the importance of acknowledging the people that help us, and surround ourselves with positive people. Realizing after that she did not have any other focus- it was only gymnastics, and having not experienced defeat or not getting what she had wanted (qualifying for the Olympic games). Although only missing qualifying by one tenth (.1) of a point, for the first time she was experiencing not getting what she wanted. She began to lose her identity as a gymnast and took some time off. Realizing how unhappy she was friends and family became concerned and asked her ‘what do you truly love about gymnastics?’ Realizing it was not going to the Olympics that made her love gymnastics helped Alexandra ask herself if not making her goal of qualifying take away the past 12 years? She also came to realize that it was not all about winning, and winning can be short lived. Gymnastics was about the journey there and the experiences. After taking the time off, Alexandra decided to return to the gym, however after returning she was told not to continue, she had the wrong body type, and should chose to go try something else. Noticing that someone is always going to tell you that you can’t do something, she said: forget it- this is something I love, and you must put up a fight for something you are interested in. you must own your craft. Alexandra returned to qualify for the 2008 Olympic games, and although being happy, she realized it was not the be all end all it had been before. She had become a well-rounded person and had learned from both winning and failing. “Don’t be afraid of failing or showing vulnerability or weakness. Just Go for it,” she exclaimed. Continuing to explain how you have your entire life to trip and get back up, and getting up is that much sweeter. She has also just recently completed her second motivational book: Breaking Through My Limits: An Olympian Uncovered
All the speakers were truly inspiring and their stories were truly touching and inspirational. I am honored that we had the opportunity to hear their personal stories of both defeat and success.