Dedication and determination paid off in full for Brieonna Russell in her academics and modeling career this year. The 17-year-old beauty graduated as valedictorian of Agape Christian School on June 1, and earned top subject and prefect awards at her graduation.
Among her noteworthy achievements in recent months, Brieonna entered the Miss Teen Bahamas International (MTBI) Pageant, placed as the first runner up, and was crowned Miss Teen Bahamas Supermodel Perfect 2013-2014.
“[Becoming] the valedictorian has been a dream of mine since I entered high school and understood what it is. Although travelling every weekend for 10 weeks straight was a bit challenging, I knew that I could balance both school work and the pageant. At times it got overwhelming, but I, again, remained optimistic and kept pushing myself. Not many people would be able to do what I did during that time span,” she said.
With a 3.85 grade point average, Brieonna easily breezed through the 3.0 or above GPA required for the competition requirements, and submitted a 60- second video clip about herself and her platform on the MTBI Facebook page.
“My platform was, and still is, ‘Mentoring to High School Students,’” Brieonna stated. “This subject is important to me because I feel as though the Family Islands (Abaco as an example) do not have enough guidance counselors/mentors throughout the high school systems. If we did, personally, I believe that a majority of the immature and irresponsible acts these high school students take part in would not be as high in number as they are today.”
Despite being self-disciplined, Brieonna had to prepare herself both physically and mentally for the competition. Physically, Brieonna had to change her eating habits by eating in smaller portions, and she also worked out five to six days a week.
She revealed, “I was not too concerned about the number I saw on the scale; I was more concerned with how confident I felt when I put on certain outfits. I felt healthier.
“Mentally, [because] it was the last few weeks of school, I had a lot going on, preparing for BGCSEs and final exams, but I managed to always stay positive and tried not to overwhelm or stress myself out.”
And so on the evening of May 12 at the Whyndam Nassau Resort, Brieonna stood onstage holding hands with Angel Cartwright – both of them remaining as the final two contestants.
“Thousands of emotions ran through my body. The two minutes it took for them to announce who was first runner up felt like hours, but once they called my name, I did not feel disappointed because I knew that I did my best and gave it my all,” she confessed. “No one likes to lose, but in the end, I believe that everything worked out how it was supposed to. I still accomplished something that I am very proud of.”
Looking back over the Miss Teen Bahamas International Pageant, one of the highlights was the Motorcade/National Costume Competition.
“I was and still am obsessed with my national costume that depicted our national fish – the Blue Marlin. It was gorgeous,” Brieonna gushed.
In general, Brieonna said she stays optimistic by avoiding negative people when she’s in the process of preparing for a pageant because she strongly believes that other people’s opinions can change your mind faster than your own. So she had lots of optimistic people to thank, including her sponsor, Island Delight Juice Company Ltd., family and friends, fans and supporters, her school’s faculty members, everyone who voted for her, and those who attended each event.
“Abaco in general was such a great support system!” Brieonna boasted.
As the reigning Miss Teen Bahamas Earth 2013-2014, Brieonna will travel to Ecuador in August to represent the Bahamas and to compete in the Miss Teen Earth Pageant. She plans to attend college in January of 2014, so depending on what happens in August in Ecuador, pageantry and modeling will be a hobby of hers for quite some time.
“I do not believe modeling is a full-time career; however, I do believe that it is an extremely competitive hobby that I just so happened to fall in love with,” Brieonna concluded.