This beauty queen is all brains
Veterinarian Cheryl Tay has her parents to thank for her 2005 crowning
She had just graduated from the University of Sydney and was a practising veterinary surgeon.
But one day, back in 2005, when Cheryl Tay was watching TV with her parents, a commercial to join Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) popped up.
Although most parents would prefer their studious doctor daughters to remain out of the spotlight and not be thrust into a beauty pageant, hers gave her the push to join.
She ended up being crowned the winner.
Tay, 35, told The New Paper: "My father suggested that I should join. My parents are always enthusiastic about (their) kids exploring life and having different experiences."
This year, Singapore's most prestigious pageant is back in a big way, with new presenter Singapore Turf Club and new imaging partner Canon Singapore on board.
And for the first time, The New Paper will be MUS 2016's official media partner and co-organiser alongside the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.
The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a Canon camera worth $1,000, and registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27.
BEAUTY AND BRAINS: Miss Cheryl Tay, a vet, was crowned Miss Singapore Universe 2005 (above). She also won the Miss Personality in the same contest. PHOTO: ST FILE
Tay, who is single, is in her last year of a European Masters in Small Animal Medicine by the University of Luxembourg for the European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies, which will train her to have a deeper understanding of difficult diseases and eye problems.
Recalling her experience in MUS, she said: "I don't think anything quite prepared me for the international competition in Bangkok, Thailand. More than 80 women from different countries engaging in a flurry of activity every day for about a month.
"The whole experience was a whirlwind.Because of the competition, I've met so many amazing women, some of whom are my best friends today."
Tay's most memorable moment of MUS 2005 was a plane ride to Phuket during the international pageant that delegates took part in.
"The islands were still recovering months after the 2004 tsunami. Piles of rubble lay on beaches. It reminded me of how powerful nature is," she said.
During her reign, other than being invited to many events and doing shoots and interviews, she was involved with charities like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Women Make a Difference.
Tay is focused on completing her studies, but she is "looking to get back into it" when she is done.
Her biggest takeaways from the MUS experience?
"It is not the competition or winning that matters most, because you can't win everything," she said.
"It's the fact that you try, and you learn from your experiences with a positive attitude. Negativity will only restrict you and prevent you from growing.
"I've learnt to be more grateful and to always make time to travel. There's so much in the world to see."
Her advice for girls thinking of joining MUS 2016? Just go for it.
"If you don't join, you don't give yourself a chance of anything happening," said Tay.
"Girls who are outgoing and want to see the world should join.
"Be confident of your abilities and strive to achieve, but always stay humble and kind."