Recent University of Johannesburg (UJ) graduate Liesl Laurie is one of the three beautiful ladies representing the University in South Africa’s prestigious beauty pageant – Miss South Africa 2015.
UJ: Who is Liesl Laurie?
Liesl Laurie (LL): Liesl Laurie (24) is a recent UJ graduate and a full time model. I’m a kind and compassionate founder of a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) called ‘The Pearl Project’, where I mentor young ladies in and around Eldorado Park and Soweto, uplifting and motivating them. I love singing, dancing and watching romantic movies. I also love the colour pink. I believe that we were all born with a purpose in life and we should never allow anyone to place us in a mould that diverts us from our destiny. That is why I live by the motto: “I will never fit in because I was born to stand out”.
UJ: Where do you come from?
LL: I was born and raised in Eldorado Park. I went to E.W Hobbs Primary and Silver Oaks Senior Secondary School. During my schooling years, I was a drum majorette with junior and senior colours, and part of a debate team. I was also part of the Learners Representative Council (LRC) at my high school.
UJ: What motivates and inspires you?
LL: Waking up every day knowing that I’ve been given a chance to help and contribute to humanity in the time that I’m living on this earth.
My family is also a source of inspiration for me. They support my decisions. Receiving love from people who keep on smiling and pushing for a better future, is also inspiring.
UJ: What did you study at UJ and why did you choose to study that particular course?
LL: I have always been a numbers girl. I excelled in Accounting in high school and I also have a dream of running my own business one day. I majored in Accounting, Business Management and Human Resource Management, and completed my B.Com degree in 2013. I think my degree will definitely come in handy soon.
UJ: What made you decide to enter the Miss SA competition?
LL: It has always been my dream to be a Miss South Africa. At the age of 19, I started taking part in various pageants. I also started modelling shortly after completing my first pageant in 2010. I fell in love with the Miss SA pageant in 2004, when watching the beautiful Claudia Henkel being crowned and I remember telling myself that I would one day become the ambassador for my beautiful country. Last year, I made the brave decision to enter the pageant as I felt that everything I am, every decision I have made, has led me to this point. All my pain, heartache, joy and the crazy enlightening experiences have prepared me for this amazing journey. I believe that I am ready for the title and the responsibilities that it comes with. It’s so exciting to be a part of the Miss SA pageant this year because Miss SA 2014 was crowned Miss World. Rolene Strauss has inspired us to be greater and strive for much more, the bar has been raised and we are ready for the challenge.
UJ: What kind of advice do you have for young girls that hope to follow the same path as you?
LL: Education is the most important tool for conquering the world and fulfilling your dreams. Don’t be in a hurry to ‘grow up’, just enjoy your teen years because they pass by so quickly. Believe in yourself and be brave as outer beauty is not everything – beauty is within you. And lastly, always thank God for your blessings.
UJ: What are some of the qualities that make a great Miss SA?
LL: In my opinion, a great Miss SA should possess perseverance, confidence and the ability to relate to people. She should not be afraid to get her hands dirty and must always remain humble. She should be compassionate and have a passion for her beautiful country. A great Miss SA should have a sense of humour and the ability to inspire and be a beacon of hope to her country and the world.
UJ: If you are crowned Miss SA, what will you do differently to promote women in society – particularly young girls?
LL: I believe young girls today need guidance, they need role models. I would like to guide them towards greater academic success in high schools and further guide them to choose careers which will elevate them in their daily lives. I would also love to educate our young ladies about being active and taking care of their bodies. We live in a technological era where people are not active anymore and we need to get our youth back to being active and taking part in sports and other activities promoting a healthy lifestyle.
UJ: As a UJ graduate, what are the traits that you have learnt during your studies in preparation for life or the future?
LL: I have learned that you have to be committed to what you do and to always have a positive attitude in order to achieve success. I’ve also learned that if you fall down, you have to get up, dust yourself and move on. Life will not stand still and wait for you; you have to take charge of your life, no matter the circumstance.
UJ: There’re two other UJ students in the Top 12. Do you think UJ has it when it comes to talents such as these?
LL: Absolutely! The likes of Rugby player Jaco Kriel, TV personalities Jeanie D and Bonang Matheba and many other notable personalities were a part of UJ.