Miss Bermuda Rochelle Minors “I want to play a part in writing Bermuda's history,” says Rochelle Minors.

The big night had arrived. The finals of the Miss Bermuda Pageant were being held at the Fairmont Southampton Princess hotel in Southampton Parish. It was a balmy island evening but Rochelle Minors was hardly aware of her surroundings.

Though only 22, Rochelle was a veteran of other beauty pageants, not to mention numerous fashion runways, so she should have been used to all of the pre-show activity—the press, the fans, the hustle and bustle as the contestants prepared. Instead, she was fretful and nervous. What was wrong?

Busy in Bermuda
The Miss Bermuda runway was the furthest thing from Rochelle's mind growing up.

“I loved ballet and long-distance running,” she remembers. “And swimming. Life was, literally, a beach back then!

“I'm an island girl at heart,” Rochelle continues. “It's always sunny and Bermuda's atmosphere is vibrant. The people are beautiful and very friendly.

“But there's nothing fast-paced about life here,” she smiles. “It's very laid-back. And I love it.”

The daughter, niece and granddaughter of Salvation Army members, the church was a big part of Rochelle's life growing up.

“My interest in music was due to my worshipping at Salvation Army churches,” the accomplished violinist, drummer and keyboardist says. “I was in the church band from the age of seven, and from there my love for music grew.”

Rochelle was a keen track-and-fielder, was the lead singer in four local bands and was in the local cadet corps.

“I kept myself busy!” she laughs.

From Bermuda to Britain
Even when 14-year-old Rochelle entered the Miss Teen Bermuda Pageant in 2004, becoming a beauty-pageant contestant was not a priority. What she was interested in was a modelling career, and she saw the pageant as a way of easing into the industry. So Rochelle was as surprised as anyone else when she won the Miss Photogenic portion of the competition and was the second runner-up in the pageant.

An interested pageant photographer recruited her as a client and her modelling career took off as she started to build a wide and varied portfolio of island clients.

After high school, Rochelle spent two years at Bermuda College earning an associate degree in art and design, then journeyed to London, England, in 2011 to continue her studies. “I'm at the heart of the fashion world,” she beams. “What more could I ask for?”

But there was more to come.

A Word From Our Sponsors
Now at the University of Creative Arts in Rochester, outside of London, Rochelle received an e-mail from the co-ordinator of the Miss Bermuda Pageant, asking her if she would be interested in taking part.

As it happens, Rochelle and some of her friends had watched the 2011 Miss World Pageant on TV, held in London at the time.

“When I saw Jana Lynn Outerbridge, Miss Bermuda, I remember thinking, I'd love to be on that stage and represent my country and show the world what Bermuda is.

So Rochelle was in a good frame of mind to consider the request. Though hesitant about the lost study time it would entail, her parents made her see that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Agreeing to participate was only half the battle. Rochelle required sponsors.

“I needed shoes, makeup, swimwear, gowns—everything,” she explains. “Nothing was provided. If I was going to make this work, I'd have to find a way of funding it. It was quite expensive.

“I prayed a lot, and so did my family.

“Fortunately,” she continues, “local businesses I had modelled for sponsored me. I was blessed by their support, as well as that of my family, my friends and my church community.”

In His Hands
The sponsorships came not a moment too soon. Rochelle returned to Bermuda from London in mid-June and the pageant was in early July, so she had barely three weeks to prepare. The days passed in a whirlwind of fittings and preparations. All too quickly, the night arrived.

Before the pageant's start, Rochelle sat reading her Bible and praying, “God, if this is Your will, if this is what You want for me, then let it be.

“That evening was surreal,” she recalls. “As we waited to go on, I felt as if I was having an out-of-body experience, that the Holy Spirit had entered into me and was controlling my footsteps, what I was saying and what I was doing. I was trembling, panicky almost. People backstage were asking me, 'Rochelle, why are you acting like this? You're a model. You're used to being on stage.'

“I wanted to be confident, but God wouldn't let me be confident. Instead of being calm, I was jittery. Instead of being poised, I was nervous.

“Right before I went on stage, I realized that the way I walked, stood and smiled—everything was out of my hands. It was all in His. At that moment, I let go and let God.”

“Showing the World”
Rochelle was genuinely shocked by the outcome.

“I didn't expect to win,” she says. “I was certain I had bungled the interview segment and equally certain that my friend, Chelsy Furtardo, would win. Even after they announced that Chelsy was the runner-up, it still didn't sink in!”

The moment she was crowned, Rochelle was swarmed by reporters and photographers. Pressed for a comment and with the cameras rolling, she was determined to praise the One responsible.

“I have to give God all the glory for this,” she announced. “I'm very proud and I'm looking forward to representing Bermuda internationally, to showing the world our beautiful island, what Bermuda is and what we are about.”

Going Forward
From there, it was on to Inner Mongolia, with only a week and a half to prepare for the Miss World Pageant.

“It was all so fast!” she says. “I mean, some of the girls in the Miss World had months and months of training and preparation, and I had 10 days, but I did it.”

While she made it to the semi-finals in both the top model and talent portions of the international competition, ultimately, the crown eluded her.

“I didn't win, but at the end of the day I'm still Miss Bermuda, and that's honour enough for me.”

Now back at school in London, Rochelle is continuing her studies with the aim of becoming a fashion designer. While there, she makes appearances and gives interviews as part of her Miss Bermuda duties. She spent the Christmas holidays on the island and she'll be back again when school lets out in May to take part in the annual Bermuda Day parade. All too soon, though, she'll see her crown pass to another Miss Bermuda. Until then, she's enjoying every second of her journey. “Being a member of The Salvation Army has made me who I am today,” she says. “I cherish its values and morals and everything I've learned in church, and I carry all of this forward in my life.”

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