Basseterre, St. Kitts — When on Friday June 12 the Nevis Culturama Committee unveiled competitors for three senior categories, namely the Miss Culture Queen Pageant, Miss Culture Swimwear and Mr Kool, allocation of sponsors for individual competitors was done in the most democratic and transparent manner.
The contestants climbed on a dais erected on Main Street Charlestown outside the A.L. Evelyn Building, and starting with Mr Kool contestants, picked names of their sponsors from a box, followed by Miss Culture Swimwear contestants.
Contestant Number 1 in the Miss Culture Queen Pageant, Ms Jonieka Smithen, picked Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis as her sponsor. The sash was carefully placed on the contestant by Mrs Jean Alcendor-Browne, the Bank’s Credit Risk Management Officer in the Nevis Branch.
“With the first contestant picking Development Bank as her sponsor, we did not have any anxious moments,” said the Nevis Branch Manager, Ms Hyacinth Pemberton who was at the Friday ceremony. “This is an ingenious way to have the contestants pick their sponsors in an open and fair manner. We as a bank are proud to sponsor Ms Jonieka Smithen.”
Tuesday June 16 was a memorable day for both the contestant and her sponsor, as she visited the branch office in Ward Building situated along the Island Main Road in Stoney Grove, where she was introduced to members of staff. She was accompanied by her Chaperon, Ms Irvinsia Warner.
According to Development Bank’s Branch Manager for Nevis, Ms Hyacinth Pemberton, the idea of inviting Ms Smithen to the office was to acquaint her with the operations of the bank because as a competitor she is supposed to do a promo to highlight her sponsor.
“It appears that Ms Smithen is already bonding very well with the bank,” stated Ms Pemberton. “She has a passion for agriculture and the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis has agriculture as its largest portfolio. She has also indicated that she wants to pursue further education in her area of interest, and with our student loan portfolio, she could not have been matched with a better sponsor.”
The 5-foot 7-inch beauty from the Windward side of the island of Nevis was born on December 2, 1996, the first daughter of June Isles and Clifford Smithen, in the historic village of Newcastle.
Her educational journey started at the Vern N’ Llew Preschool in Craddock Road, Charlestown, and she moved on to the Charlestown Primary School. Jonieka’s interest in pageants goes back to her primary school days where in 2008 she represented her school in the Talented Youth Pageant and she took home the Miss Talented Youth Pageant crown.
After the Charlestown Primary School, Ms Smithen moved on to the Charlestown Secondary School and then on to the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) in St. Kitts. She however quickly changed to the Sixth Form College at the Charlestown Secondary School, when she realised that they have a course in agriculture, which is her area of interest. She has recently completed her schooling and is waiting for examination results.
Ms Irvinsia Warner, Ms Smithen’s chaperon, is well exposed to pageantry having been a contestant for Miss Culture in 2011 where she finished as the first runner-up to the Development Bank contestant Ms Santonya Mills, and participated in the Miss National Carnival in 2012, where again she finished as the first runner-up.
As a chaperon, Ms Warner’s first ‘client’ was for a school pageantry in 2013 where the contestant came second runner-up. She took the big plunge in same year when she chaperoned a Miss Culture Queen Pageant contestant who finished first runner-up losing by a mere half a point.
“Ms Smithen has what it takes to bring the Miss Culture Queen Pageant crown back to Development Bank,” said Ms Pemberton. “It last came to the bank in 2011, when our contestant Ms Santonya Mills won it. The person she beat narrowly is none other than Ms Warner, who is the chaperon for our contestant this year. The Smithen/Warner team is a winning combination, and the Development Bank is fully behind them.”