Charming and classy Amaka Oguchi’s tenure as Miss Commonwealth International ends in November, but the Microbiology graduate is already in high spirit and can’t wait to crown a new Queen. She was recently awarded ‘The Best Youth Role Model’ at the ‘Remember Africa Awards.’

Amaka, whose crown has opened a lot of doors for, will not practice microbiology but will apply its knowledge to beauty therapy and cosmetology which interests her. An ardent sports lover, she engages in it as community service. The beauty Queen took KATE HALIM on a journey of her life and rise to fame after she was crowned Miss Commonwealth International 2009. She also revealed what qualities a man must possess to make her his. Excerpts:

What does your experience at the Miss Commonwealth World 2009 mean to you?
My experience at the Miss Commonwealth International was a wonderful life time experience that I will keep in my heart always. There were different characters, beautiful sites and places, many group games, new things to learn and of course, I made a lot of friends.

What went through your mind when you were crowned Miss Commonwealth Africa?
I was overwhelmed. I remember one statement that kept going through my head and that was ‘we did it’ . This was because back home before I left for the competition, I worked with people who trained me to be the best I could be for the competition. I was happy that all that work was not in vain.

You were also crowned most cultural contestant, why do you think they singled you out?
I must hand it all to JD7’s Mrs Data Okorodu. It is no news that she makes local classy and elegant clothes with our cultural fabrics. She designed all my clothes with local fabrics. Everything I wore from casual to evening dress, she made with indigenous fabric thereby celebrating our uniqueness. I clearly stood out from the crowd. I remember getting a standing ovation from the crowd when I walked out in my evening wear.

How did your foray into pageantry begin?
I stumbled into it by chance. I was first a Hi fashion and photography model and one day I got a call saying I had to go for an audition some where. When I got there, it was a screening for a beauty pageant. I decided to stay back and watch. Suddenly, a guy walked up to me and asked why I wasn’t taking part. I explained that I wasn’t there for the screening, but he told me he believes I have all it takes to be part of the girls. He gave me money to buy a form and also run to a shop to buy what was required. Fortunately, I made it back in time, got screened and was chosen. That was how I won my first pageant as the Prettiest Girl in Nigeria 2008 and later, Miss Commonwealth Nigeria and then Miss Commonwealth Africa.

There were hurdles on your way no doubt, how did you cross them to get to the top?
My family has always been of support and they kept encouraging me with advice. I also have friends and fans who appreciate what I do, they give me the strength to go on. I also believe in myself and I also rely God’s grace.

Can you share your secrets of success with us?
You set a goal and you put your mind and energy to it, with all of your passion and dedication, you will definitely achieve. In addition, I have committed teams and organisations dedicated to the cause of my work, I never work alone, these are my secrets.

Did your parents support your journey into modelling?
I grew up with my dad because I lost my mum when I was nine. My dad has always given me all the support I needed in whatever I do. I am happy he still does that. My mum’s sister, Victoria whom I call my mum does everything within her power to help me succeed.

How did they feel when you were crowned?
They felt very proud of me and happy that I had the chance to do what brings me satisfaction.

What other activities are you interested
Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology that can help women feel good about themselves, build their self confidence, self esteem and love who they are.

What have you learnt from the Miss Commonwealth pageant?
I have learnt a lot from the MCW that I might not even be able to finish if I begin. I have learnt to embrace the different cultures and beliefs from so many walks of life. I have also come to realize that there is so much to achieve in the world through unity and peace. Finally, I have learnt living for people and being a voice for those who can’t be heard so as to give them a better future.

How come you have interest in sports, what informed it?
I have always loved sports from a very young age and it has helped me a lot while growing up mentally, physically and socially. In addition, education and fun go hand in hand and it helps in the growing process of a child. Sports has so much to offer to someone, a group of people and also a society. All of this initiated my focus on sports, but I am still engaged in charitable givings to hospitals and orphanages. The sports project is more of a community service.

What have you been able to achieve through sports?
Healthy body, sound mind, team spirit and good social interaction. It has unleashed a fighting spirit and courage in me knowing that I can take on the world. It has also made me realize that even though I lose sometimes, I have to be able to get up quickly and push some more to achieve success.

You are also responsible for activities in other African countries, what are your duties?
I support and endorse a lot of charity projects in Africa. I represent other Commonwealth Queens in Africa at International events and I speak on their behalf. I also promote the aims and the objectives of the Commonwealth. I travel a lot to make these projects work.

What structures have you put in place to carry out your duties effectively?
I have a strong team of people who I work with and I am focused and dedicated.

What is your unique selling point as a model?
My poise, patience and I am also a good communicator.

Do you have plans to practice as a microbiologist after your reign?
No, I won’t but will apply the knowledge to cosmetology and beauty therapy.

When is your reign ending?
In November

As your tenure draws to an end, are you anxious about who will take over from you?
The grand finale is in December and I look forward to that day. I can’t wait to see the new Miss Commonwealth.

What would you miss most about your crown?
I guess the weight on my head. I will miss the beauty of the crown but obviously every International Commonwealth Queen knows the responsibility never leaves as you still have to stand and work as an Ambassador, except you are relinquished of your title. I am a Miss Commonwealth, always a Miss Commonwealth.

What is your advice to other models and beauty Queens?
Be the best you can ever be.

What blessings have been added to your life as Miss Commonwealth International?
Uncountable, both nationally and internationally. I just won an International Award ‘Remember Africa Awards’ as ‘The Best Youth Role Model’. The title opens a lot of doors.

What are the bad sides of your crown?
None at all.

What other plans do you have in the offing?
I will continue to work hard to improve myself . I have to work towards self-growth and also have fun while at it. My project will continue to run and I will continue to give my services to the society within my capacity. In the month of January/February, I will be hosting the next Miss Commonwealth Nigeria.

As a youth, how are you helping Nigerian youths regain their confidence and also change their attitude to life?
I attend and host seminars in schools and talk about topics on youth empowerment. This will help build their self confidence and belief in themselves.

How do you keep in shape?
I have a good body and also I eat healthy and drink lots of water.

What is your take on the Nigerian modeling industry?
The modelling industry in Nigeria is poor. Models are not paid what they deserve. We no longer have strong agents and that is why we find a lot of freelance models. The effect is that a lot of our models keep running to South Africa for greener pastures.

Do you have any fond memories of your childhood you wish to share with us?
I always loved going to school because I was one of the popular kids and my teachers adored me. I loved my holiday trips. I also remember my 10th birthday party which was very memorable because I celebrated it at school. This was because my Dad wanted it to be fun and a learning process at the same time. At the party, there were lots of prizes and the following weekend, we also had a huge party at home.

Did you have a privileged upbringing?
Yes, my dad tried his best to provide everything we needed. We were not flamboyant as a family, but it was nice growing up. We were satisfied with what we had as children.

Who had the greatest influence on you while growing up?
My dad, it has always been my dad. When I lost my mum as a child, her sister whom I later grew up calling mum was always in the UK, but my dad was always around. His influences in my life cannot be overruled.

What core values do you feel is missing in today’s youths?
Lack of patience, lack of self confidence, and a low parent- to-child relationship where kids are afraid to express what they feel to their parents. In the long run, this suppresses the self confidence of these children and make them timid.

How can it be changed for the better to make them great leaders of tomorrow?
It has to start from the home because it is the foundation and then it can be nurtured with proper guidance and counselling in schools. Many youths have to be released from peer pressure and know that they have what it takes to succeed and not have to be like someone else. Many live like there is no purpose to life, they should start believing in who they are and what they want to become and take steps in that direction because action speaks louder than words.

What other hidden talents do you possess?
Acting and playing volleyball.

What kind of activities do you enjoy when you are not working?
Going out with friends and watching movies.

What else do you wish to achieve in life?
To the best of my ability, I want to be a successful woman. I also want to live a life where I see the person next to me happy, and putting a smile on many faces anyway I can.

What qualities do you look out for in people that draw you close to them?
People who are humble, intelligent, hard working, and individuals who are fun- loving attract me.

What is the greatest lesson life has taught you?
It has taught me that adding good value to another person’s life adds two more to yours. Make good use of every opportunity that comes to you because you might never get it again, cause success doesn’t just come to you, you have to earn it.

How do you handle overtures from men?
Very well. I have male friends but that is as far as it goes. I am never rude, but friendly to the opposite sex. I am also polite and express my self in a way that won’t seem unfair to them no matter the situation. If it does get out of hand, I am never alone, someone is always around me to take care of those issues and that is one of the advantages of being a Queen.

Are you in a relationship now?
Yes, but I keep it discreet.

Are you seriously considering marriage?
Of course, I am like every woman should, but that would be later.

What qualities must a man possess to make you his wife?
He must be my best friend, intelligent, hard working, supportive, fun to be around, nice and caring.

Lets meet you
I am Amaka Oguchi. A 23 year old graduate of Microbiology from Igbenedion University. I am from Amichi Local Government Area in Anambra State. I have four brothers and two new siblings. I love my dad Mr Oguchi and my mum Victoria. I love my country. I’m wishing her happy Golden Jubilee.