A young Vernon woman has another crown to add to her collection.
Samantha Sewell was crowned Miss Universal Global International 2024 at the pageant in Orlando, Fla.
Sewell, 24, competed alongside contestants from 11 countries while representing Canada.
She also won for Best Evening Gown, Best Interview, the Amazing in Black Competition, Swimsuit Competition, Photogenic Competition, Fashion Wear competition, Most Appearances, and the Kindness Award.
Sewell says her favourite part of the pageant was the interview portion, during which she spoke about her struggles with mental health and apraxia of speech.
The interview comprised a one-minute intro about the contestant's journey, platform, or themselves and was followed by two minutes of questions based on what was just asked – all in front of a panel of judges from around the world.
Growing up, doctors told Sewell she would never be able to speak or be successful, so winning the interview competition was the most significant achievement for her.
As the new Miss Universal Global International, Sewell plans to travel around Canada, participate in podcasts, and spread awareness on inclusion and apraxia.
"This is not a win for me, but a win for every child out there who has a disability and has been told 'no'. I am showing them you can do anything, regardless of disability,” Sewell said.
Sewell replaces Miss Universal Global International 2023 Gigi Matute, who represented Venezuela last year.
Sewell, a graduate of Okanagan College, Gallaudet University and Pacific Rim ECE Institute, owns and runs Raising Stars Preschool, which she founded last year to create a more inclusive start to early childhood education.