It is difficult to escape the charm of Terri-Karelle Griffith, the vibrant and warm nature of the reigning Miss Jamaica World pulls whomever crosses her path into its embrace. After all, her effervescent personality and jovial spirit are what lead her to be being a favourite with the public, judges and even the other contestants at the 2005 Miss Jamaica World Pageant.
Terri grew up as an only child with her mother and grandmother. She firmly believes that her accomplishments are testaments to how well they raised her: Both women have been immensely supportive of her throughout the competition and during the year of her reign.
Upon receiving the title of Miss Jamaica World, Terri-Karelle made a brave and unorthodox decision, to put her studies in Veterinary Science at the University of Cuba on hold for a year in order to commit herself fully to her duties. And that she has…for the past year Terri’s schedule has been filled with attending charity events, representing Jamaica abroad, guest modeling in fashion shows, and speaking at various functions. For example, she was the spokesperson for the campaign to save the life of Francine Dillon, a young woman who suffered from thymic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, she performed a dance at the Powerful Women Perform for Charity concert, guest modeled in the Atlanta / Montego Bay Sister Charity Fashion show held in Atlanta, USA and regularly guest speaks at graduations and at school pageants. As an ambassador, she represented Jamaica at the 2006 Curacao Carnival and the Houston International Festival where Jamaica was the showcased country. Any free days not taken up by outside scheduled activities, Terri uses to give motivational talks to G-Sat primary school students to prepare them for the pressures of high school, and carry out a Clothes, Toy and Book Drive for children’s homes.
“I have loved my reign wholeheartedly”, says Terri Karelle, “because of the support and love from Jamaicans and the ability to use my title to do good and be a role model.” Terri-Karelle saw the crown and title of Miss Jamaica as more than being about looks and the occasional public appearance; she saw it as a full-time job, an opportunity to serve her country.
Strangely enough, the thought of one day becoming Miss Jamaica World was once “far-fetched” to Terri-Karelle, who was always a tomboy. “Things like heels and dresses were never up my alley,” she admits, and it was a surprise to all her friends that she even entered the competition. It was the constant encouragement of friend and Spartan instructor Mark McDonald over the course of 3 years that finally saw Terri being placed on her rightful path.
If Terri was surprised to win the crown of Miss Jamaica World, she was absolutely shocked to place in the Top Fifteen and win the U-vote Public Choice for the Caribbean at the Miss World Pageant. “I couldn’t believe it,” says Terri-Karelle when she recalls that proud moment of her name and country being announced as a semi-finalist, “I wanted someone to pinch me, I never thought it would happen.” Placing in the Top Fifteen was only the icing in the cake for Terri-Karelle during her participation in the 2005 Miss World Pageant in Sanya, China. Before going she had heard nasty rumours about how competitive the girls would be. Nevertheless, she managed to go without any preconceived notions about what the experience would be like. In the end, the Pageant turned out to be “the complete opposite what of I had heard,” Terri-Karelle says, “It was a fun experience. Everyone was really friendly and I had a good relationship with all the girls.”
Terri-Karelle will joyfully pass on her crown to Miss Jamaica World 2006 in the knowledge that she has had a fulfilling year: making new friends, doing a variety of activities and making a contribution as a public servant. In her eyes, the gift of being Miss Jamaica World is what you make of it. She advises the incoming queen “to love yourself and your country: to use the title to be a good role model.” She urges Miss Jamaica World 2006, to take her reign seriously, to see it as a job which comes with duties and responsibilities.
Even though Terri-Karelle will be handing over a crown, she does not in any way feel that her work to serve her country is done. Although she will be returning to Cuba to complete her final year of study, she plans to return to Jamaica soon to continue to work towards her vision for Jamaica. It is with yearning that Terri says, “We all have a similar vision for Jamaica, for this country to realize its fullest potential: For it to be a place where there are increased resources and opportunities for young people, where the gap between the rich and the poor is closed and where there is a reduction in crime and violence.” And working towards that vision is exactly what Terri-Karelle Griffith will continue to do.