Sixteen-year-old Shaida Francois is a fifth form student of the Portsmouth Secondary School – a thriving educational institution and the oldest secondary school in the north of the island of Dominica.
Shaida’s earliest memories were weaved in the quaint, culturally vibrant village of Paix Bouche. Named in the French Creole or ‘patois,’ which is popular among islanders, Paix Bouche literally means ‘hush your mouth’. However, Shaida’s life and her achievements have been anything but secret.
Her love of her island’s heritage and culture has driven her to participate in a string of local pageants. She was still in kindergarten when she copped the second place position in the Ti Dou Dou (Little darling) pageant. She later vied for the position of Ti Matador or ‘Little Madam’ winning Best Talent and Best in Wob Dwiyet (the national wear of the people of Dominica). But, Shaida did not stop there.
She went on to compete in Carnival Princess Shows, both in her community and at the national level. She won the title of Paix Bouche Carnival Princess, securing awards for Best Talent, Best Evening Wear, Best in Evening Wear, and Best in Costume. More recently, Shaida is the current holder of the title of ‘Femme Culturelle 2016’ or ‘Cultural Lady’. On her way to winning that crown in early November, she walked away with prizes for Best Speech, Best in Wob Dwiyet, Best Response to Question, and Best Creole Ensemble.
Shaida’s passion has not only influenced her success in pageantry. Off the stage, she is serious about her academic goals. Having excelled at the Common Entrance Exams in her final year at the Paix Bouche Primary School, Shaida secured a government scholarship to attend secondary school. She has maintained her position among the top students in her form level for the past five years and will be sitting ten subjects at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams in 2017.
The first of seven children, Shaida’s determination to succeed in and out of school is partly fueled by a desire to become a role model that her siblings can emulate and she intends to continue her academic career at the Dominica State College. While she has expressed an interest in accounting, and was recently awarded for her performance in that area, Shaida’s interest has been piqued by the evolving field of forensic pathology. The idea of being in the same room with a corpse is certainly not one that would appeal to the average teenage girl. However, Shaida is intrigued and excited about the prospect of studying the dead.
Motivated by the popular adage, ‘The sky’s the limit!’ she also dreams of one day running her very own business. Indeed, there can be no limit for someone who is so driven and committed to success in every aspect of life.
The Haynes Smith Miss Caribbean Talented Teen Pageant Takes Place on December 30th 2016 at Carnival City in St.Kitts