Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beauty queen from Brandon reigning for just a few weeks

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BRANDON -- Her reign will be short, but a Brandon teen says she intends to make it happy.

Channing Smendziuk, 19, has been crowned Miss Teenager Universe 2011 after initially finishing second in the beauty pageant.

A couple of weeks ago, she automatically received the title when the original winner was dethroned. She'll hold the honour for another couple of weeks before the winner of this year's pageant is declared.

As runner-up, Smendziuk knew there was a chance she could still hold the title if the original winner couldn't fulfil her duties.

"It's always, I guess, kind of in the back of your mind, although it doesn't happen very often," Smendziuk said. "Now that it has happened to me, Iàwas excited."

Smendziuk was initially declared runner-up during the pageant, held in Guatemala in October.

"I was kind of disappointed," she said of her second-place finish, but added she was grateful also. "To come second out of 40-some girls is still an honour."

After the pageant, Smendziuk returned home to continue her bachelor of science program at Brandon University and her job as cashier/courtesy clerk at Canadian Tire.

However, pageant officials recently announced that due to "lack of commitment," the original winner, Isabella Cazon Torres of Portugal, had lost her title.

A couple of weeks ago, while on a family vacation, she received a call on her cellphone informing her of the news. She was told to head to Guatemala again to pass the crown to the pageant winner.

"I said, 'Mom, guess what? I'm heading to Guatemala again,' " Smendziuk said. "She just freaked out, and of course she had her phone out, texting all of her friends."

Smendziuk's reign will be relatively short -- about a month -- as organizers have moved up the contest this year to Aug. 13-18.

With her new title has come some fame. Strangers who shop at the store where she works have recognized her. People have left hundreds of posts and messages on Facebook to congratulate her and share their inspirational stories.

Through it all, Smendziuk has managed to remain grounded.

Although she's been crowned an international beauty queen, she admits she's a little self-conscious about her looks because she recently got braces.

She has her job at Canadian Tire and remains focused on finishing her degree, even as she intends to chase a career in modelling and acting.

She won the Miss Teen Canada-World pageant and placed second in the Miss Teen World before this latest title.

Being a beauty queen isn't all roses, Smendziuk said. She's received rude messages online as she's taken part in pageants over the years. They've called the contests "stupid" and a waste of time.

Beauty pageants are about more than looks, Smendziuk said; they're a chance to be a good role model.

One of her regrets about being Miss Teenager Universe for such a short time is she missed out on the opportunity to do charity work, travel and meet and inspire other teens.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 4, 2012 A11

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