Rolene Strauss: Our test-tube queen

2014-04-06 14:01

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Rolene Strauss has been asked whether she is genetically modified.

Her almost perfect features, piercing eyes, defined jaw line and disarming smile earned her the Miss SA 2014 crown last week.

A little known fact in the Sun City Superbowl when the Palesa crown was placed on Strauss’ head on Sunday night was that she was a test- tube baby?–?but technology 21 years ago would not enable genetic modification, she points out.

Her parents were born in Bloemfontein and studied there. When her mother had trouble falling pregnant, her parents took part in the baby test-tube programme of the then University of the Orange Free State.

“I was specially made to study in Bloemfontein,” Strauss laughs.

Until she was crowned, she had been studying medicine at what is now the University of the Free State.

She will take a yearlong break from her studies during her reign.

Strauss may have been made for Bloemfontein, but she grew up in Volksrust, Mpumalanga, where she says her morals and values were set.

It was also in this sleepy town that her path to the heights of beauty pageantry was carved.

The nine-year-old met 19-year-old Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss, who was visiting the town in 2001, and she knew then that she would be a Miss SA one day.

“Jo-Ann made me believe in ­myself. We have the same surname. I only have to be a Miss SA as she was, still relevant, still out there and doing what she dreams about.”

Strauss believes that, contrary to some views, Miss SA still has a role to play in today’s society.

“Every woman who enters Miss SA has something to bring to the title.

“It’s important to see the title as something that you can take to ­places, not necessarily that the title can take you. I am passionate about health and women, and that’s what I want to focus on during my year. As young women, we need mentors to look up to, especially women.

“I’m a born-free, so I don’t have any negativity when it comes to the future. That’s also the example I want to set for the youth, to know that your dreams can become a ­reality in our country.”

Strauss is concerned about voter apathy in her age group.

“I don’t think you have the right to say something about our country if you are not willing to have your voice heard and vote for a person who shares your vision. It is important to vote and make a difference.”

Raised in a small town, Strauss says she has never been a party girl, but rather “the girl sitting in the front row in class”. For her, an ideal outing is going to movies with friends, and spending quality time with them and with family.

“There’s so much you can learn from people. I also spend time on personal growth.

“In South Africa we sometimes ­forget that we can enhance our growth. You don’t have to be ­studying, you can be a student of life.”

Strauss likes reading motivational books. Her most recent one was The Alchemist by Brazilian-born author Paulo Coelho, which she says is about finding one’s purpose.

“It is exactly what is happening in my life now. When I was 16, I ­travelled internationally as a model and got a spider bite in Paris. I had an emergency operation in Germany, then came back to South Africa and spent 10 days in hospital.

“Something said to me that I ­needed to come back home and find my purpose here.

“I realised that I could live my dreams right here at home.”

The spider bite has left a scar on her knee, which she says is a part of her character and the journey that she has embraced.

With a golf handicap of 24, Strauss says she enjoys the sport, but she does not have time to play it often.

Strauss says she will adjust easily from being a student to playing the role of being the most beautiful young woman in the land.

“Since I was nine, my mind was ­already here. I entered in 2011, but it was not my year. I’ve pictured myself being here and that makes it so much easier.

“My passion is giving, so whether I am at university, seeing patients, ­giving love and help, or if I am Miss South Africa, it’s the same to me. It’s all about giving.

“I would like to be remembered as an altruistic person. I have always been a giving person. I remember my mum telling me not to give ­everything away.

“When I had new shoes, I would give them away. It’s the reason I studied medicine.

“You give of your time, passion and skills to those around you, and that’s what Miss SA is all about.”

Strauss says winning the crown as South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy is an honour and she wants to turn the spotlight on the country by doing well internationally.

She looks forward to meeting ­businesswoman Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, whom she calls an ­inspiration.

“I would drag out all her wisdom from her. She is a medical doctor ­focusing on business and charity. I would like to know her heart and who inspired her to be where she is.”

Of the prizes worth R1.3?million that she won, Strauss says it was the Volvo V40 she was most excited about?–?an upgrade from her mum’s hand-me-down A-Class Mercedes that she had been driving to campus.

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