Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Rolene Strauss, has been crowned Miss World 2014, the culmination of a competition that began on Nov. 20.
Of the competition's six events, the crown jewel and heart is the Beauty with a Purpose event, which judges the contestants on a charitable project they have been working on in their country. This year, the judges gave five first places to Miss Brazil, Miss Guyana, Miss India, Miss Indonesia and Miss Kenya, as they were unable to separate them.
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But it is the pageant's top winner that has us captivated with beauty, grace and brains all wrapped up in one smiling, taffeta and bejeweled package. Strauss, the daughter of a doctor and a nurse, is herself a fourth-year medical student. She put her studies on hold to compete in the Miss World competition.
She said it had always been her dream to not only become a doctor, but to also win this pageant. "Everyone in my town called me little Dr. Strauss," she said. After she was crowned, she said, "South Africa, this is for you."
Miss South Africa took the reigns from Megan Young, the winner in 2013 from the Philippines. Strauss is the third South African woman to win the Miss World pageant.
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This year's pageant included contestants from 121 countries. It should have been 122, but tragedy struck a month ago when Miss Honduras, Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister were shot and killed allegedly by the sister's boyfriend.
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The contestants are planning to travel to Alvarado's native Honduras to build a school in the slain contestant's name in the hope that it will "impress on the people of Honduras that in the violence, and hurting people like those two innocent women… maybe they can think again before they take a gun."
Miss Hungary, Edina Kulcsar, was first runner-up, and Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit, took third. The competition has been running for 64 years, and we are excited to see such a great role model wearing the crown.