A Ryerson graduate is on a mission to be named the second African-Canadian Miss Universe Canada.

There has only been one African-Canadian woman in the pageant’s history to win the title. Katherine Highgate’s goal is to become the second and promote diversity.

Miss Universe Canada or “Beauties of Canada” is a national beauty pageant. The pageant gained the exclusive rights to send a Canadian representative to the Miss Universe Pageant for the first time in 2002.

Highgate graduated from Ryerson’s Radio and Television program in 2013. This is her second attempt at the title, as she first competed in 2013 while she was still attending Ryerson.

Katherine Highgate poses for a Miss Universe Canada shoot. Photo credit: Miss Universe Canada

Highgate credits her time in the RTA School of Media for helping her become a more well-rounded person.

This time she’s going into into the competition with a different outlook and more confidence in herself.

“I think that what I was missing before was a sense of self-love and self-esteem, and my decision to come back this year was largely influenced by the tremendous confidence that I’ve gained with age and experience,” Highgate said.

In the future, Highgate wants to work as a television personality. She said that competing in the Miss Universe Canada program has taught her how to network with people from a variety of media backgrounds and has opened lots of doors for her.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to do something on-camera, but I’ve quickly realized that the best in the business are able to write, edit and produce their own content,” she said. “The radio and television program helped me to become much more knowledgeable about the technical side of the industry and I’m grateful to my professors for pushing me to expand my skill set.”

Although pageants are often seen as a platform to pit women against each other, Highgate found that the competition helped her grow.

“Although it is a contest where we are being compared to other women, I really feel like I am competing with myself to set new personal bests.”

Her public speaking skills have also improved as a result of the pageant.

Although preparation for the pageant is time consuming, Highgate has many different projects going on at the same time.

“I’ve been blogging for a few sites over the summer, as well as working with an experiential marketing firm.”

In her spare time, she takes tap classes and cooks for friends and family.

While there is pressure to look perfect in the competition, Highgate said that it is important to remind yourself that your identity and self-worth is not only based on physical appearance.

“I have learned that I can’t seek validation from a scorecard or ranking in a competition,” she said. “What keeps me grounded is my circle of family and friends who value me, whether I end up in first place or dead last”

The Miss Universe Canada competition runs from Oct. 5-7.

A cat-lover at heart, Josie became the new fall news editor for the Ryersonian in September of 2017. Among other publications, Josie will be interning at Cityline starting in October of 2017.

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