Our very own Okanagan woman, Shanelle Connell, is competing in the Miss Universe Canada pageant this fall, her inner beauty shines even brighter than her amazing looks.
At just 21 years of age, Shanelle has developed a keen awareness of what is important to her, and her compassion for women in need, knows no bounds. She takes her passion and beliefs to the upcoming pageant with a simple purpose…to shed light on women’s mental health issues.
The Miss Universe Canada pageant will be held in Toronto in September. Shanelle is a perfect fit with the organization’s motto…confidently beautiful.
One of the top five pageants in the world, Miss Universe Canada expects much of their contestants. Shanelle will attend promotional media events, charity fund raisers and other activities related to the pageant. This year, their focus is Operation Smile, helping kids with cleft palates. And her adventure will provide many opportunities for her own advocacy.
“My biggest passion is mental health, particularly for women. I would love to work with women who have had to deal with toxic backgrounds or abusive relationships. Recently I was asked by the Elizabeth Fry Society to be the ambassador of their Speak Out campaign, on behalf of women who are facing these issues,” she said.
Currently enrolled in university, most of Shanelle’s courses have to do with marriage and relationship counselling. One of her key goals is to become an international speaker dealing with these areas.
“It is so sad to see how limited our resources and understanding of mental health are in Canada. I knew mental health was a problem, but until recently I didn’t realize how big a problem it was. That is the platform I’ll carry to Miss Universe Canada.”
In her barely-there spare time, Shanelle loves to get involved in live theatre.
“I used to love to get involved in acting. I haven’t been performing for the past few years and it has evolved into a passion for public speaking,” she says.
She is also a budding entrepreneur. Her initial formal education was in the area of graphic design and she operates a small online business designing graphics for women. She is currently developing online workshops for young women in the area of relationship building.
“I envision something online where people who are interested, or need help, can participate and still keep their anonymity. I also plan to build a relationship podcast component to go along with it.”
Her other great loves include writing, art and - a true Okanagan girl - wine-tasting and food.
“I love wine tasting…it’s my favorite thing to do. And I’m a huge foodie!”
Shanelle Connell is a young woman who is going places, and she loves the thought of her future. She sums it all up this way:
“I have so many grand ideas. I believe in life, it’s the big thinker that makes a difference.”