Scholar in the spotlight - Louise Victor
Saint Lucian Chevener Louise Victor is passionate about good organisational communications, which inspired her choice of course this year: a master's in International Public Relations at Cardiff University.
Victorious by name and nature, Louise won the title of Miss Saint Lucia earlier this year. This then allowed her to compete in the Miss Universe pagaent in November in Las Vegas in the United States.
Chevening caught up with her to find out more about this exciting experience...
Chevening: How does it feel to be living in the UK as Chevening Scholar?
Louise: Over the last few months, my expectations have been far exceeded. Living in the UK has enhanced my appreciation of that fact that despite being from the ‘small island’, my contributions both personally and professionally do have global significance.
What inspired you to choose the course that you are studying?
For the past three years I worked as a marketing and communications executive, a major component of which was public relations. I developed a true passion for the discipline, and the next calculated step for me was to further pursue this field within a global context.
The led me to research academic institutions which offered international public relations programmes. I was captivated by Cardiff University’s course and felt as if the universe was compelling me to apply.
Tell us about what you were doing in your home country before moving to the UK to study.
I worked as a Marketing and Communications Executive with telecommunications brand Digicel. I also have a rich background of volunteerism, community activism, and involvement. I was the previous President of the National Youth Council in Saint Lucia. I also served on the executive of the district youth and sports council in my home community of Micoud.
During my tenure, the executive initiated a number of key programmes and initiatives including leadership seminars, public-speaking workshops, and community restoration projects, among others.
I have an extensive background in pageantry having secured a number of titles locally and across the Caribbean. One of my greatest passions is the facilitation of mentorship programmes for young women across the island. School visits, keynote addresses, and motivational speeches to all demographics also formed a significant part of my life over the years.
Being awarded the title of Miss Universe Saint Lucia is a great achievement. How did this all begin?
My pageantry journey started in 2010 when I secured the title of National Carnival Queen (Saint Lucia). This is a major pageant which takes place annually during one of Saint Lucia’s largest cultural celebrations - carnival.
Between 2011 and 2012, I represented Saint Lucia at five regional Caribbean pageants, finishing in the top five for each. Later in October 2013, one week after successfully attaining my undergraduate degree, I was crowned Miss Caribbean Tourism. Following this win, I was ready to represent my country internationally. In 2014, I vied for this title of Miss Universe Saint Lucia and finished first-runner-up. I continued to work towards accomplishing this dream and fate had it that on 31 July 2017 I would emerge as Saint Lucia’s next representative on the international stage.
How have you used the title and platform of Miss Universe Saint Lucia to raise awareness about causes that you’re passionate about?
My country’s future and development are important to me. However, I equally value preserving things are all characteristically ‘Saint Lucian’. For the competition my national costume represented a species of lizard endemic only to Saint Lucia: the Saint Lucian whiptail lizard. This was the first time this beautiful creature was portrayed creatively on such a significant platform. The species are under threat and are protected on islets just off the mainland. I wanted to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels on this species.
Tell us about the Miss Universe competition experience in Las Vegas.
An experience of a lifetime – intense, fulfilling, and exhilarating! Similar becoming a Chevening Scholar, participating in the epitome of global pageants, Miss Universe, was also a major life goal. This year’s competition was historic, with the largest number of countries participating ever (92).
2017 was significant for Saint Lucia in particular, as it marked 40 years since our nation debuted on the Miss Universe stage, so being able to represent was a great honour.
What was most fascinating for me (apart from seeing Celine Dion perform live) was my ability to apply concepts from the classroom, learning about international public relations and global communications, to an intensely promotional culture. Apart from being an entertainment-centric production, Miss Universe focuses heavily on humanitarian efforts and charity work. On the eve of Thanksgiving weekend, in the spirit of giving and goodwill, participants collectively packaged over 300 parcels in aid of socio-economically challenged families.
The overall experience solidified my personal philosophy that maintaining balance in life is key. I think it is important not just to work hard, but to work smart; to play hard, to network, to challenge yourself, and importantly to always make time to be of service to others.
What do you intend to do when you return to your home country?
I believe tremendous potential exists in focusing of marketing distinct exportable service offerings, as well as greater investment in cultural and heritage tourism. Saint Lucia is home to some of the greatest natural attractions in the world, including the Pitons and the world’s only drive-in volcano, the sulphur springs.
I intend to work with the relevant ministries such as culture, tourism, youth development, and national bodies such as the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and Folk Research Centre. I want to conceptualise innovative and engaging marketing programmes supported by relevant and emotive content to create a uniquely Saint Lucian brand.
One of my immediate goals is to lend my efforts to promoting awareness and understanding of the public relations field. Naturally, I will return to volunteering in Saint Lucia and continue to work with young people through mentorship and the support of programmes to develop writing and oratory skills, professional etiquette, personal brand management, and to develop tools to harness creativity.