Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers had hopes, but did not necessarily expect to win the Miss Universe Great Britain of this year. And I definitely did not expect a victory with much fanfare. The 25-year-old singer says her victory still looks surreal, but the support she received from black women around the world is helping her absorb everything.
"Having mothers who ask me to talk to their daughters, just to tell them to be proud of who they are, was when he began to feel real," he told HuffPost. "I'm very proud of that"
It is especially inspiring to be what she calls "a little girl on the island." And she is encouraging other girls of the little girl to dare to dream big. Here are five more things you should know about the first black woman to win Miss Universe in Britain.
She represents two places in the United Kingdom.
Kentish-Rogers was born and raised on the small island of Anguilla, a British territory located in the Caribbean with a population of only 15,000. She gives credit to the united island community for keeping her humble and dedicated to great achievements. In 2013, he moved to Birmingham, England, to study law, and quickly realized that he felt familiar in some way. The city is often poorly informed in the media, as is its homeland.
Now, she is urging women and girls not to limit their worlds to the size of their backyards.
"Too often, when we come from very small communities, they make us believe that this determines our trajectory," he said. "I'm here to show young women that that's just not true"
He did not expect his historic victory to be a big deal.
"I did not win the contest because I'm black, it's because I worked hard and executed my plan," said Kentish-Rogers. "But after winning the title and receiving hundreds of messages from black girls telling me that my victory feels like their victory, I have realized that it means a lot to me because it meant a lot to others."
The impact really impacts home, he said, as he reflects on the message he sends to young women on his own island and throughout the Caribbean.
"It means a whole world for me to be able to show young Anguilalan [girls] or any Caribbean girl who can go much further when they accept their inheritance and allow her to push forward," he said. . "We are small, but we are powerful."
Originally I wanted to represent Britain through sport, not pomp.
"When I was little, I always told my mom that I was going to be an Olympian for Great Britain, and she supported me," said Kentish-Rogers.
His athletic prowess allowed him to represent Anguilla on the international stage as an athletic athlete. But just when he seemed destined for athletic greatness, in 2014, a serious knee injury cut his short career.
"I had to focus again," he said. "I was not really changing my dreams, but letting them reinvent themselves"
Kentish-Rogers has not completely surrendered athletics. As Miss Universe Great Britain, she plans to incorporate her passion for women's sports into her platform, helping emerging athletes with professional development and raising awareness about the gender pay gap in sports.
She wants to use her reign as Miss Universe Great Britain to raise awareness about climate change.
Last year's hurricane season devastated much of the Caribbean, including Anguilla. Hurricane Irma damaged significantly more than 90 percent of the island's infrastructure, a major blow to a territory that depends on tourism from the United Kingdom and the US.
"It is devastating for an entire community to lose so much so quickly, and for much of the Caribbean, it is becoming an all too familiar part of our realities," he said. "First we have to recognize that climate change is real and that it will continue to have a catastrophic impact on the region if the whole world does not act."
With the help of the government of the United Kingdom, Anguilla has mostly recovered. But Kentish-Rogers wants more people around the world to know the disproportionate impact that climate change has on the entire Caribbean region.
Too often, when we come from very small communities, we are led to believe that this determines our trajectory.
"It is a question of security and longevity of our islands, our homes, in the 21st century" He said.
Part of his challenge includes educating his British colleagues about the many overseas territories of the United Kingdom. Like many Puerto Ricans in the United States, she often has to explain to her compatriots that being born in Anguilla makes her a citizen of the United Kingdom.
"We are as much a part of the UK as anyone else, and I am happy to have those conversations introducing my countrymen to their fellow citizens in the territories," he said.
She just took the bar exam!
She is already a beauty queen and a former athlete, Kentish-Rogers hopes to be a lawyer soon. The graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Birmingham was called to appear at the end of last month, and is anxiously anticipating his results.
She is interested in becoming a sports attorney, she said, as a way to fuse her love of sports with her passion for the law. And you'll have plenty of time to do it, after your next hurdle, of course. Kentish-Rogers will compete for the general title of Miss Universe in November.