Miss Universe Singapore 2017: Tanooja Rai
After her cousin, who suffered from depression, died in 2015, Tanooja Rai, 27, decided to make a difference.
The cyber defence accounts manager, who graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in electrical engineering, told The New Paper: "I strongly believe in having a support system for those going through depression.
"People don't understand the drastic actions those suffering from depression can take and the stigma that comes with it, so I want to raise awareness."
In 2015, Tanooja initiated a private movement on Facebook.With friends who are counsellors or in social work, she created a private Facebook group - The Fight Against Depression - to reach out to those in need.
She said: "Participants get to share their feelings anonymously. We also communicate over the phone and even organise group meetings for those who are more comfortable sharing their personal stories...
"I want to give them the confidence and ability to voice out instead of bottling their issues, which will be detrimental."
What is the cause you want to fight for in Miss Universe Singapore 2017?
I hope to be an inspiration to all the victims out there fighting these battles by creating a platform for them to voice their concerns and have an established support system to address these concerns. I am already working on helping some individuals suffering from depression through various means (like our Facebook group).There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise, so I hope to come up with a support system for victims of cyber bullying as well as championing a cause to fight against cyber bullying.The fight against depression. Helping someone with depression can be a challenge - I experienced that when my cousin died due to the illness.
This year's theme is "Vie for a Beautiful Cause". What does charity mean to you?
It means giving back to society and the world. It is about becoming less of me and more of us. It is also about shaping the world into a better place for everyone by lending a helping hand to one another, without expecting anything in return.
I would like to support the Singapore Children's Society. I believe children are the purest form of life, and with the right guidance, they can make a big impact in society. I want to instil the (value) of kindness in children and allow them to be able to pass down the same (value) of kindness to someone else.
Which influential living person would you like to meet?
Sparsh Shah. He is a 14-year-old Indian music prodigy who lives in the US and was born with almost 40 fractures.
He is a living inspiration to able-bodied and disabled people alike. To date, he has written 10 songs. He has also memorised 250 digits of pi. Sparsh has inspired me to believe that dreams are not enough. It is hard work that turns them into reality, and I am impressed by his unbreakable spirit.
What is the greatest challenge women face today?
Despite the paradigm shift in the world today where we are seeing more women progressing and climbing the corporate ladder, we cannot shy away from the fact that the shift did not eradicate the conventional mindsets or stereotypes the world has of women. Women are seen as the weaker sex, and thus correlated as less capable than men.
The challenges come in various forms in different countries. I believe we should inspire women to stand up and fight against these challenges.
What is your special talent?
The ability to cook four different cuisines - Chinese, Indian, Western and Turkish.
WATCH THE FINALE
The Miss Universe Singapore 2017 fnale will be held on Oct 11 at Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre, West Ballroom.
Expect a sumptuous fve-course dinner with entertainment and wine.
Individual tickets are from $400, and a table of 10 is from $3,888.
To buy tickets, visit tnp.sg/mustickets
Creative director: Yeoh Wee Teck
Stylist: ZH Tan
Hair: Apgujeong Hair Studio
Make-up: Cosmoprof Academy
Manicure & pedicure: Beaute Nails
Studio shoot Photographer: Benjamin Seetor
Resorts World Sentosa shoot Photographer: Phyllicia Wang
Location: Adventure Cove Waterpark
Swimwear: K.Blu Swim
Singapore Turf Club shoot Photographer: Ng Sok Eng, BerryHappy Photography
Dresses: Style Lease
Writer: Charmaine Soh
Videography: Dalene Low, Sim Jia Yi
Additional photography: Dalene Low
Project managers: Sheralynn Shen Jega, Khoo Yap Meng