MISS Luminous SA Plus-Size 2019 finalist Olwethu Mchunu (18) has vowed to defeat her opponents at the beauty pageant that will be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban on December 8. Born and raised in Greytown, the former Greytown High School pupil who matriculated last year is optimistic about her chances of winning the competition. “My parents are my source of inspiration — through all the challenges they have faced they strived for a better life, not only for themselves but also for me. They have been my source of strength, made everything possible. They believe in me and make me feel worthy, and they have taught me to follow my dreams no matter what it takes. “I am also inspired by people who know where they are going, those who strive joyfully to accomplish their goals and are determined to accomplish what they set out to do and do it enthusiastically and with hope,” Mchunu said. Mchunu entered Mr and Miss Luminous South Africa in August. “My application was successful and, in a few hours, I was in the running for Miss Luminous South Africa Plus-Size 2019 and I am currently a finalist. “I was never really passionate about modelling at an early age but my love for it began when I was 16. “Mr and Miss Luminous South Africa is a non-profit organisation founded by Michelle Zama in 2018. It aims to produce future leaders of note and raise a generation of young people who embrace a sense of social responsibility. The organisation’s objective is to inspire and encourage the youth of South Africa,” she said. Despite all the challenges she has encountered, Mchunu said the interesting thing she has learned from being in the modelling industry is to be kind and caring and to create change in people’s lives, and to be the spark that ignites the light for those in hopeless situations in their communities.“I keep myself motivated by believing in myself; that I can achieve anything and everything I put my mind to — the sky’s the limit. I also believe that what is meant to happen will happen and everything has it’s own time. “What I noticed when I started my modelling career is that you don’t always win, and I experienced that in my very first pageant, Miss KwaZulu-Natal, where I only won the Public Choice Award and not the Miss title. I overcame that by telling myself that you cannot win all competitions you enter but rather you should enter a pageant in order to grow as an individual and to create change in people’s lives.” While she was at school, Mchunu said she did not lose focus on her studies, saying: “It’s basically a matter of prioritising — I make time for what is more important and urgent in that particular period. If I’ve got an examination, I make sure that I do it during my spare or break time.“For me, community outreach programmes are the most important part of modelling. I have visited old age homes and children’s homes in Durban in the past weeks as Miss Luminous embraces South Africa as a whole. I have visited Arcadia twice and I’m planning to visit the children’s home and Khayalami Children Village soon. “I hope to achieve growth, build leadership skills, create change in people’s lives, and inspire the people of SA and so far I feel I have started achieving these factors,” said MchunuIn motivating others to follow in her path, Mchunu said: “To my peers — never stop following your dreams, no matter how hard or long it takes, as nothing comes easy; you learn more from failure than from success. “Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are, and never allow negativity to stand in your way. Remember, whether you do good or bad, people will always have something negative to say about you. “I’ve also been chosen as a delegate for Bali Asia International Model United Nations, taking place in January 2020 in Bali, Indonesia, which is not part of modelling but which aims to provide a platform for young future diplomats to encourage themselves in understanding international issues and policy related to culture, debate and sharing perspectives among participants from different backgrounds and different ethnicities. It is also the best place to gain some skills in diplomacy, public speaking, negotiation, and some critical thinking towards the international issues within an international atmosphere and framework.” In order to attend the event in Bali, Mchunu called on the community to support her and help sponsor her trip, saying: “I can’t afford to do it on my own but I need each and everyone’s support as I am raising both Greytown’s and my country’s flag high.” Mchunu appealed to the community to vote for her for the finals of Miss Luminous SA. To vote for her, SMS Olwethu Mchunu to 35959, SMS costs R3.