Miss Universe Singapore 2015: 'I felt I wasn't good enough'
She was hesitant at first to join Miss Universe S'pore because she didn't have degree - but she did and won
She thought she wasn't Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) material because she had not been to university.
But MUS 2015 winner Miss Lisa Marie White, who has a Higher Nitec diploma in visual merchandising from the Institute of Technical Education College Central, was wrong.
The 23-year-old of Malay-Kiwi descent told The New Paper: "I was initially hesitant about joining, but I did in the end after being pushed by my friends and family.
"I felt I wasn't good enough and I didn't have what it takes... because most of the previous winners went to university and hold good degrees, but I don't have that."
She added: "I was intimidated, but I still went for it. I've always seen the MUS as an amazing opportunity, but I never thought it would actually happen to me. It was like a childhood dream come true."
Miss White was picked out of 50 hopefuls by a judging panel led by MUS' new national director and 2002 MUS winner Nuraliza Osman during a closed-door recruitment and selection process.
She was eventually unveiled at a Formula 1 after-party and catwalk show at nightspot Amber Lounge last September.
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.
For the first time, TNP will be the pageant's official media partner and coorganiser with the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.
The winner will receive $10,000 cash and a Canon camera worth $1,000. Registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27. (See below.)
Miss White is "glad" for her successor because she'll get to enjoy "all these amazing opportunities" and "so much exposure, help and recognition" with TNP and the new sponsors on board.
She said: "The New Paper has had New Face and look how far those girls have gone. It will surely put the new MUS winner on a different level."
After her crowning, pageant newbie Miss White went straight to work to prepare for the international competition in Las Vegas, backed by an A-list team.
"It was really rushed because I had only two months to train, but I was blown away by how down-to-earth and encouraging everyone was, really devoting so much time and effort into helping me be the best I could be in that short amount of time.
"They also taught me to be strong and persevere, and they made sure I ignored the critics," said Miss White.
She added: "The whole experience (of training) was kind of a shock to the system. Some days I felt really good, but some days I was really stressed (and) I would cry because I couldn't eat chocolate.
"You don't realise how you take all these things for granted until you take part in a pageant and you look at a cookie and you've never wanted a cookie more in your life."
Still, MUS helped the 1.73m-tall freelance model and aspiring actress-host to get her foot in the door of the local entertainment industry.
Miss White has been hosting and emceeing events, is acting in Channel 5's drama Tanglin and has appeared on Suria show Interns. She has travelled with the Singapore Tourism Board to Thailand and Indonesia.
A month ago, she was invited by Miss Universe India 2015-turned-Bollywood starlet Urvashi Rautela to the South Indian International Movie Awards, which was held in Singapore for the first time.
Miss White said: "I wouldn't have had any of these opportunities if not for MUS, and I wouldn't have met all these amazing girls. Till this day, we all communicate in a WhatsApp group and no matter which country I travel to, I have a friend."