She's a queen with a heart of gold
Former Miss Universe Singapore Eunice Olsen epitomises pageant values through her commitment to advocacy, humanitarian and volunteer work
For the past 16 years, Eunice Olsen has undoubtedly been a Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) winner who walked the talk.
The former beauty queen and all-around do-gooder, claimed the title in 2000 and epitomises the pageant's core values with her unfailing commitment to and passion for advocacy, humanitarian and volunteer work.
Right from the start, Olsen did not want her MUS reign to go by without doing something meaningful.
She got in touch with then-US Ambassador to Singapore Mr Steven J. Green, whom her father worked for. He helped her start volunteering at Toa Payoh Girls' Home (now known as Singapore Girls' Home).
Following that, she got involved with the Kebun Baru Youth Executive Committee and Andrew and Grace Home, where she conducted etiquette and grooming classes for the girls.
Fast forward to today: The 38-year-old bachelorette is a media entrepreneur and executive producer of social enterprise WomenTalk, which she founded three years ago.
Hosted by Olsen, it is an interview series that features the accomplishments of extraordinary everyday "sheroines" from all over Asia.
It was nominated for an International Emmy in the Digital Program: Non-Fiction category in 2014.
Olsen told The New Paper: "MUS was one of the dots in my life that have led me to where I am today. As (the late Apple founder) Steve Jobs said, 'You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards'.
"Every situation in life can be an opportunity if you work hard and make it one, and I'm privileged and very grateful that I've had the support from my family and close friends to turn these dots into opportunities that have led me to where I am today and to what I'm doing now."
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 co-organiser with the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.
The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a Canon camera worth $1,000, among other prizes.
Today is the last day of registration.
In 2012, Olsen went on to design a menstrual hygiene education programme for women and girls in rural communities, working closely with groups in Cambodia and Nepal.
This programme is now used in India and Africa as well.
She occasionally travels around the world for speaking engagements and is still involved in advocacy work on human trafficking.
Oslen also co-produced and acted in a 2014 movie - titled 3.50 - which was about the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia.
She was also appointed goodwill ambassador with World Vision and Habitat For Humanity.
Her last trip with the latter was in 2014, when she led an all-girl team to Kuching, Malaysia to build a house.
She is now a volunteer with the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore.
BEAUTY AND COMPASSION: Eunice Olsen has filled her time with spreading goodwill since being crowned Miss Universe Singapore (left) in 2000. PHOTOS: WOMENTALK TV, EUNICE OLSEN
On top of her these already-impressive achievements, the multi-hyphenate dabbled in local showbiz for a few years.
Not only was she a host, actress and musician, she also became a Nominated Member of Parliament in 2004.On her brush with non-partisan politics, she said: "Being in the legislature, we had the privilege to be like middlemen, speaking to Singaporeans about issues that mattered most to them, reading about the issues of the day and having the opportunity and platform to raise issues to our Government and policymakers...
"Most importantly, I also learnt the importance of spending time on the ground and assessing needs, something that is imperative and has helped me tremendously with the work I do today."
Olsen was in her final year at National University of Singapore, studying political science and philosophy when she was approached to join MUS by a scout with the organisers.
Olsen has "fond memories" of both the local and international pageant held in Cyprus, where she forged friendships with other contestants.
This is despite having been "really ill" and struggling to juggle teaching piano, studying for her final-year exams and going for MUS rehearsals before the finals itself.
She said MUS is perfect for women who want to "step out of their comfort zone" and use it as a "launch pad to achieve greater things".
"We as MUS winners and contestants have the ability to use the voice we've been given in our own way," she said.