Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam relives her victory walk at the pageant during her visit to Guaico Government Secondary School, on Wednesday.
Photo: Corey Connelly
BY COREY CONNELLY
Wendy Fitzwilliam relived her initial moments of glory, after being crowned Miss Universe 1998, during the Guardian In Education project at Guaico Government Secondary School on Wednesday.
The project, titled Making A Difference, is aimed at instilling positive values in young people.
Several other local celebritiessprinter Ato Boldon; cyclist/artist Michael Phillips; swimmer George Bovell III and batting star Brian Laraare also involved in the initiative, which was launched at Queens Royal College, Port-of-Spain, in February.
It was during Wednesdays question and answer segment that Jevon Ogiste, a Form Four student, asked the former beauty queen, Can you show us how you walked after winning?
Students roared with laughter.
Fitzwilliam, wearing her trademark toothy smile, graciously obliged.
Urging the visibly enamoured student to escort her through her paces, the statuesque Fitzwilliam walked sensuously across the front of the packed auditorium, giving a few spunky twirls, to the delight of her audience.
Even the teachers had a hard time containing their applause after her brief routine.
Fitzwilliam also sang a few lines of the ballad, Runaway.
Laughs aside, Fitzwilliam told the students that mistakes were there to be made.
However, she stressed that learning from ones mistakes was crucial to ones development.
Using herself as an example, she said, We all make mistakes, some not as significant as others. But, out of them I have achieved and moved beyond.
In this regard, Fitzwilliam, who confessed to being a party girl, made it clear that although adolescence should be enjoyed to the fullest, some thought should be given to the future, to the What ifs?
You have to learn to think beyond next week, she said.
Vice-president of business development at Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Co Ltd, attorney, model, HIV/Aids activist, goodwill ambassador, Fitzwilliam wears many hats.
During the interactive session, she told the students that her success in fulfilling her various responsibilities could not have been achieved without sacrifice, determination and commitment.
There are going to be those instances where you are going to be given the opportunity to make choices, she said.
When making spur of the moment decisions, you should step back and think it through. Choosing the right subjects at O-Levels would determine your career path.
Fitzwilliam emphasised individuality.
Do I take a course because the cute guy is taking the class or, as we say in Trinidad, that slim thick thing (girl) is doing art? she asked.
Any major decisions or actions, think it through.
She told the students that once a decision was made, they also had a responsibility to see it to completion.
Asked her opinion on men in the society, Fitzwilliam remarked, They are given a raw deal to some extent.
She said traditionally, society had not invested the same care and attention in men as it did in women.
Claiming that 70 per cent of households in T&T were run by women, she said girls were often given a list of instructions in the absence of their parents, while boys were simply told, Do not burn the house down.
From birth, we have always had to keep it together, she said of women.
Admitting she did not see herself as a role model, since I am still learning, Fitzwilliam said she was inspired by model/accountant Sharon Imbert, late American actress Audrey Hepburn and South African icon Nelson Mandela.
Fitzwilliam, who met Mandela briefly during one of her HIV/Aids missions, spoke reverently of his influence.
He is the most humble, spiritual human beings I have met, she said.
He has the ability to shift world opinion with a phone call or press conference. Although he spent 27 years of his life in prison, he has come away with no animosity.
What you see with Nelson Mandela is what you get.