“I wanted to gain this title in order to be an ambassador for my country. I wanted to give back to a community that has always been dear to my heart and one that I have always wanted to help and be involved in, so it is an honor to be able to represent it on a global scale as well as locally.” – Gina Hargitay.
Miss Jamaica World has been around for decades and while it has been a pageant of beauty, brains, and brawn, the contestants have far surpassed all expectations with their unique talents, skills, and secret perks.
The year 2013 was an especially life-challenging one for beauty Gina Hargitay, who singlehandedly won over the judges to win the Miss Jamaica World that year, dubbing her the most popular Miss Jamaica since the 1980’s.
“Mentally, it had a lot to do with my family, my friends, and the encouragement I got from them. Whenever I got stressed, I would call one of the many persons who were supporting me and we would talk through it. That was a big part of the mental preparation.” – Gina Hargitay with the Jamaica Gleaner.
At only eighteen she entered the contest with her head held high and ready to take on anything that was thrown at her with grace and confidence and that she did. She was born in St. Andrew, but grew up in Ocho Rios, St. Ann to Hungarian father and Jamaican mother and she is the youngest of three siblings – two brothers and a sister. Hargitay attended the Marjam Preparatory School then migrated to London, because of her father’s business, and completed her secondary studies at the More House School. At the time of the pageant, she completed her A-levels in history, chemistry and German.
“At the moment, I am looking at pursuing a degree in history and politics. I have also been throwing up the idea of medicine for a long time, so it’s a choice between the two. I am on my gap year and I have applied to universities and have been accepted to a few universities in England, but I am also looking at the University of the West Indies, especially since I have gained a scholarship.” – Gina Hargitay.
Although she was faced with the tough decision between pursuing a degree in medicine or history and politics. She chose to pursue a degree in history and politics, which she is studying currently at the University of Westminster in London. She dreams of pursing a postgraduate degree in Chinese history; this is an area of study that is fascinating to her.
“At the moment, I am thinking I’d like to get a master’s (degree) in Chinese history. The Chinese culture is one of the things I find really interesting. I find it extremely intriguing the way the people are, especially in terms of their long-term goals. When most countries make a five-year plan, China will make a 30-year plan and execute it flawlessly, and I think that determination and diligence is admirable.” – Gina Hargitay.
Even though she finished in the top ten at the overall Miss World pageant, she is more formally and will always be known as Miss Jamaica World and Miss World Caribbean.
“I love being in Jamaica, I love being a face for young people and it’s crazy for me because I am so young, so it’s crazy for people to be coming up to me and say that I inspire them and they look up to me, it’s insane, I would never have expected it and I am so honored and humbled.” – Gina Hargitay.
She is a Queen of many trades. A lover of sports, playing tennis, netball, hockey, fencing, along with loving the arts in which she draws, sculpts, dances jazz, is a pianist, cello player, and singer, to name a few. She also started swimming at the age of two, swimming competitively up to the age of fourteen; this was indeed beneficial as she saved the life of a drowning boy.
“My mom and dad pushed us into extra-curricular activities. Any sport or activity that has ever been offered to me, I have taken up.” – Gina Hargitay.
Additionally, she is versed in martial arts, and she obtained her blue belt in Tae Kwando, Gina also has the hidden talent of sign language, which she likes, and has utilized it to aid the School for the Deaf—a charitable organization which she supports. She was the ambassador for Endometriosis March, Million Woman March campaign, Kingston City Run and the United Nations regional ambassador in Jamaica among other ambassadors for organizations. Hargitay has also worked with USAID, Missionaries of the Poor and McCann Child Care Centre. Through her passion for philanthropy and charity, she is a goodwill ambassador for Brand Jamaica and role model for young women across the globe.
“It’s something I have always [had] a passion for mostly because of my parents and their influence, they always taught my siblings and I to be very conscious and socially responsible people, so whenever we are faced with tragedy or challenges we would always rise to the occasion by trying to fight back and do something. So my charity work really started when I was about thirteen – my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer – and we were living in London at the time and every year I would do the Race for Life which is a marathon raising money for cancer research and also I was passionate about working with children and I was very grateful that the Miss Jamaica World was working with four charity organizations all to do with children.” – Gina Hargitay.
Simply put, she is a charmer of the hearts of many people not just Jamaicans, but also people from different parts of the world. She has travelled to the Grand Cayman, The United States, Senegal, Canada and Brazil through her motivational and public speaking. She has also been to many islands of the Caribbean, including Trinidad and the Bahamas. Gina’s trips to Europe took her to places in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Her multi-lingual ability makes it easier to communicate with residents of the countries she visits. Apart from English, she speaks French, German, some Italian, Spanish, and Chinese.
She has been dubbed the youngest inductee in the Caribbean Hall of Fame in 2016 for her invaluable contributions to her homeland, Jamaica, and the Caribbean as a whole.
She continues to chart her path working with many organizations like the Sickle Cell Foundation of Jamaica, which is close to her heart since her older brother was diagnosed with sickle cell and both her mother and she carry the trait; so it is only fitting that she became a beacon of awareness for the disease.
In 2016 she became the ambassador for Shashamane Sunrise, an international charity which aids with the education of children in countries such as Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Jamaica. Shashamane Sunrise aids in sponsoring schools through the model school programme, equipping students and teachers with essential resources which improve the overall learning process. Starting in Jamaica in 2010 at the Windsor Forest Primary School, their intervention has seen GSAT passes skyrocket from forty-eight percent to eighty-five percent. Windsor Forest Primary also received much needed renovation and through the organization a reading room and library with technological aids such as printers, computers and other learning facilities were built. The organization’s vision is to attain one hundred percent passes in all sponsored schools with the help of supporters.
Hargitay has been a role model for the organization services as she participates whole-heartedly in tours to socio-economically challenged schools in poverty-stricken communities of Jamaica. She also co-hosted the organization’s charity event “Fashion Meets Music”, so she plays a very integral part in the foundation of Shashamane Sunrise.
“Youth empowerment is something personal for me. I’ve always wanted to empower young people, to make them aware of the impact they can have on society. I am serious about the Shashamane Sunrise Charity because it involves youth and education. I am always willing to do anything that improves the lives of young people.” – Gina Hargitay.
Eight things you didn’t know about Gina Hargitay, courtesy of the Outlook in the Jamaican Observer.
- She is a vegetarian and lists Chinese food and ackee and salt fish as her favourite foods. Having decided at the age of 13 to become a vegetarian, she was, and still is, the only member of her family to make that step.
- Is a dog lover who some say is obsessed. She owns seven dogs.
- Has a passion for art. All her school folders are filled with pages of doodles and drawings.
- She says her favourite music genres are reggae and rock. She has confessed to being obsessed with Damian Marley.
- Considers herself a nerd, but makes no apologies for her love of chemistry and physics and says she could speak about science for days.
- She has had two surgical work experiences. The first was with a children’s orthopaedic surgeon. The second was with a heart surgeon where she actually got to scrub in on four open-heart surgeries and assisted in the closing.
- One of her dreams is to travel to at least four countries on every continent, including the Antarctic. But before embarking on this, she would first like to explore every island in the Caribbean.
- Is deeply concerned with what she sees as the collapse of Western societal structures and traditional values. In this context, she hates fast food, the fast life – fast anything. She believes that a lot of people have no time to think, as everybody is busy chasing alienating values and embracing the culture of consumerism, which is a ground for shallowness.
By Alexandra Daley