WASHINGTON - Who is the fairest Ugandan girl in North America this year?
This should be the question on everyone's mind ahead of this year's Miss Uganda North America pageant (UNAA).
The 30 UNAA convention is scheduled for August 31 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue Hotel in Seattle Washington, USA.
The 2018 pageant which features12 beautiful, intelligent and inspired Ugandan ladies between the ages of 18 and 30 from across North America, kicks off with a VIP-exclusive red carpet and cocktail open-bar before the girls are unveiled to music from Sheebah Karungi and Irene Ntale.
Last year, Yvonne Kushemererwa, a 25-year-old behavioral interventionist based in Vancouver, Canada, on Friday beat 11 contenders in a hotly contested race to become the new Miss Uganda North America in six years at the luxurious InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida, USA.
Tibba Murungi Kabugu, the event's head of operations and founder of Inzozi Fashion House, the event organisers, says the winner will get a scholarship towards college expenses and leadership programmes from UNAA.
"The event is a leadership programme. The 12 contestants from across the United States of America and Canada each year are now inductees, and even though the main event is the beauty pageant, the leadership programme will last for six months,” she says.
The winner will also be doing a cultural, tourism and community building tour of Uganda in 2018
Introduced to the UNAA Convention in the early 2000, the Miss Uganda North America beauty pageant was last held at a UNAA convention in 2011 because:
“It was sidelined in the recent years in preference of a fashion show as UNAA strategised to give it more meaning.
"We needed it to add more purpose to the lives of the young women who participated and it has just taken a while in the works,” says US-based Julius Kabugu the event coordinator, Miss Uganda North America.
“But now UNAA has found serious partners who can give the pageant the value it deserves in organisers Inzozi Fashion House and Afrisent, creative design houses started by young empowered Ugandan women in Austin, Texas, USA,” he said.
Below are the Miss Uganda North America 2018 contestants:
Nyame Mariam Danso - San Diego, California
Nyame was born and raised in Uganda. She’s currently pursuing a modeling career in College. “… this would be a great opportunity for me to combine what i love most – fashion – and helping people.
Daphine Karungi Kabwa - West Hartford, Connecticut
Daphine is a Mass Communications graduate from Uganda Christian University and is working on attaining a Master’s Degree. She would like to use this platform to create social identities that will be developmental to our community, pulling up fellow women.
Natasha Mupenzi - North Andover, Massachusetts
Born in Uganda and raised in Uganda and Rwanda, Natasha speaks Luganda, Runyankore and Kinyarwanda. She’s currently in nursing school, working on becoming a nurse practitioner. Her dream is to someday move back to Uganda and work in a hospital there. She’s also obsessed with culture.
Tramaine Suubi – DC Metro area
She just graduated with a double-major in Philosophy and French from Wheaton College in Illinois. Her passion is international human rights advocacy. “This passion for equity and justice is grounded in my faith as a Christian.”
Jacent Nalwali Wamala – Henderson, Nevada
Jacent never has a dull day when it comes to serving her community. Born in Uganda and raised in Nevada, she works as a marriage and family therapist, juvenile detention center therapist, part time instructor at University of Nevada Las Vegas, and volunteers with Broadway in the HOOD (Helping Others Open Doors) – a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged youths. She is planning to get her PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy and is interested in activism and philanthropy. “I do not feel like I work a day in my life, because I enjoy everything I do.”
Noelyne Leni Alitema – Eugene, Oregon
This daughter of the West Nile Region of Uganda is interested in International Studies – specifically International Law. Leni Noelyne borrows a lot from her upbringing in a small village to survive the challenges of living in the United States. It has also inspired her to plan on making clean water and sanitation more accessible for people in rural Uganda. “I believe educating a girl child a day can greatly improve the situation.”
Mary Semakula – Auburn, Washington
She was born and raised in Washington State and is currently a freshman attending the University of Washington, majoring in Biomedical Sciences. “Growing up I was always teased for being a nerd, and not fitting society’s standards of beauty.” Mary wants to teach young women that it is OK to be different and to have flaws – that there is nothing wrong with enjoying studying and being smart.
Shalom Aburu – Tacoma Washington
Shalom Aburu is a fashion designer in the Seattle/Tacoma areas of Washington state. She also works with a nonprofit in Uganda that helps youth to access education opportunities and gain vocational skills. Shalom believes in tackling the problems faced by Uganda through education of the youth.
Michelle Namuyaba Mukasa – Everett, Washington
At the age of seventeen, her heart desired to grasp ahold of a cause worth fighting for. Knowing that her heart is for helping people, she became a soldier in the U.S. Army. In the same way, she desires to learn from her people and continue to spread the beautiful Ugandan culture to all generations. Her greatest role model is Maya Angelou (rip). “She challenged women to recognise oppression and the very captivity they may hold themselves within.”
Comfort Chloe Akatukunda – Peabody, Massachusetts
Raised in Mbarara, Uganda, Comfort moved to the United States at the age of 18. She is a sophomore at Regis College, pursuing a Bachelors in Nursing. Comfort brings a caring and positive attitude to the class of 2018. She hopes to leave behind a legacy of queens making a difference. “I want what everyone wants, to be seen as more than ordinary.” Her core values are honesty, commitment, respect and patriotism.
Jacinta Nabirye Bateganya – Kennesaw, Georgia
Jacinta is a junior at Kennesaw State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Statistics. She plans to pursue a career as a health psychologist and also has a huge interest in fashion and beauty. She currently part times as a jewelry consultant. She would like to use this platform to shed a light on mental health, especially often ignored mental health issues affecting women – such as postpartum depression.