RECOGNISING the most talented beauty queen in Miss Rwanda contest was indeed one of the commendable changes in this year’s edition. Sandrine Umutoniwase scooped the award of Miss Talent, receiving a reward of Rwf1.8 million from Health Development Initiative (HDI) among other benefits, after demonstrating her creative painting skills at the grand finale of Miss Rwanda 2021. The 21 year-old shared that she has had a passion for since lower secondary school, and would often do simple drawings but had no idea that it was her talent. Although she enjoyed drawing, her dream was to become a singer, but, unfortunately, one of her parents did not endorse the idea. “My father however, encouraged me to pursue my passion, even though my mother wanted me to study medicine or other sciences. Her explanation was that music puts one in the limelight, which is not good at times, she said. She added: I had to drop the dream of becoming a musician and pursued art, which I was passionate about.” Umutoniwase later went to Nyundo School of Art and Music, from where she was equipped with skills in digital art, painting, and designing. She now works at Envision Media Arts Collective, a local media arts collective and social enterprise. Not denying the fact that one’s dream is not achieved automatically, the talented queen asserts that focus, determination, and dedication are prerequisites. “Don’t be scattered in many things, focus on one thing that you are passionate about, pursue it and give it ample time. As long as you are passionate about something, you can always learn and be better at it,” she underscored. She also stressed that parents should back their children as much as they can, especially when they can see that their children have passion for something. “Parents should be supportive to their children, offer them space to showcase their abilities. They could be surprised how that talent will help them make a living,” she said. Experience in Miss Rwanda Umutoniwase says that she always dreamed of competing in Miss Rwanda and would always be encouraged by her friends and relatives to do so. However, she would fail before trying because her height is below the former minimum height of 1.70 m. Luckily, this year’s edition did not consider one’s weight and height, as long as they are in a healthy range Body Mass Index (BMI), hence paving way for her to try her luck. “Besides meeting new friends and being crowned Miss Talent, in Miss Rwanda, I learned a lot about Rwandan culture, and womens rights and empowerment,” she said. Meanwhile, Umutoniwase pledged to make use of the exposure and award she got in the beauty pageant to uplift young artists. “I am currently working on a personal project that has to do with art, after which I will work on my other project of promoting art through culture. On the latter, I will use the exposure I got to mobilize partnerships that will help me support more young talented artists,” she explained.