The current Miss High School, 15-year-old Natacha Irebe, beat 18 girls from 18 different schools in the second edition of the beauty pageant on August 14. For her, it wasn’t about a chance to shine, but rather, an opportunity to help boost confidence and self-esteem in fellow young girls. She spoke to Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa about her experience in the competition and why she wants to help orphans.
Tell us about yourself
I will be 16 on December 16 and I’m the second born in a family of three children. My parents are Ernest Mazimpaka and Marie Goreth Mukamunana and I live in Kicukiro with my family. I attended Le Pigeonnier Primary School for my primary level and Groupe Scholaire Officiel de Butare for my ordinary level. I am doing Math, Physics and Computer Science (MPC) at FAWE Girls School and will be joining senior five next year.
What was the motivation behind your participation in the Miss High School competition?
When I had just joined FAWE Girls School this year, I saw how girls had a hard time trying to express themselves publically and I felt pity because some would even miss out on their scholarships because of failure to express themselves. I participated in the Miss FAWE competition and I won so I was supposed to go and represent my school. My friends and family supported me. I looked forward to the competition because I saw it as an opportunity to help girls find mentorship and work on their self-esteem and public speech.
Who are your role models?
His Excellency President Paul Kagame because of the enthusiasm for unity he has brought to the country. I’m inspired by him because I know that everything is possible if you are committed to it. Also, Miss Carine Rusaro Utamuliza(Miss University of Rwanda 2007, and first runner up Miss Rwanda 2009) because when I was a young girl, she took us for training in modelling and traditional dance.
Tell us about your experience in the competition.
The competition was great. We made friends and met many people. I learnt time management because late coming was not tolerated. My challenge was wearing high heels for two weeks which I wasn’t used to but it taught me perseverance.
How did it change your life?
Earning the title is a big responsibility and another level in my life. I learnt that I should act responsibly all the time. Every time I plan to do something I remember my title and I know I have to be smooth in whatever I do, because I know so many people look up to me and I want to inspire them. I’m cautious in whatever I do, which is a good thing and I think I have matured.
How do you balance your responsibilities with books?
I use my time well. When it’s school time, I concentrate on my studies and only use a little time for arranging mentorship because most of my work is done over the weekend. I use holiday time to rest and do my tasks.
What is your philosophy in life?
Things do not always turn out the way we want them to but sometimes it is for our own good.
What future plans do you have?
I plan to do a project specifically for helping orphans. Through experience, I found out that family is the most important thing. I imagine what orphans go through in terms of moral and financial support and so I felt the need to help them. I also hope to contest for bigger positions like Miss Rwanda after I’m done with high school, although I also want to be a soldier in the future. I am inspired by them.
What advice do you have for young girls?
Many young people are addicted to drugs and partying and things that are not beneficial to them. I advise them to focus on their studies because with this growing economy, our future now lies in our studies. Without education, life becomes hard.