After a glamorous day at the Miss Universe "boot camp" in Wellington, Manawatu beauty Vanessa Johanson is feeling inspired and confident.
Miss Johanson, 19, a second year nursing student at Massey University, didn't think twice when she was asked by the Miss Universe New Zealand national director to take part in this year's competition.
Evana Patterson, national director for Miss Universe New Zealand, said she spent a lot of time scouting out women on the street and on Facebook.
When Johanson was approached, she said she was so excited.
"It was one of those situations that only happens once," she said. "There was no doubt that I would do it, it is such a big opportunity."
With no previous modelling experience, little idea of what to expect and a bit of practice walking in heels, Johanson said she loved every part of the boot camp.
Not your usual boot camp of fitness and fat burning, the women at Miss Universe spent the day learning about makeup and fashion, healthy living and the glory of being in the spotlight.
Ms Patterson said that the boot camps were designed so the women had a great experience as a whole.
"It is really just giving the girls that opportunity to better themselves and to step outside their comfort zone, by doing things they generally wouldn't probably do," she said.
Miss Johanson said it was a great chance to give it a go and have fun.
"They made us feel like part of the Miss Universe family. Even if you don't get through you are still part of it, which was really comforting."
Despite the change from studying in "little old Palmerston", Miss Johanson said she would like to pursue modelling as a bit of fun.
"You have to be pretty, of course, but have a beautiful heart as well," she said referring to some tips from a former Miss Universe.
"I think you just have to remember where you came from and stay true to yourself."
Hayley Robinson, Miss Manawatu 2012, also attended the boot camp in Wellington and said she expected the journey the top 20 will be going on would be a great learning experience.
"I would love to be a role model and influence other teenagers positively," she said.
"I don't think I am actually that photogenic, so I don't know how well modelling goes for me, but I really enjoy it. I think if I learnt more skills I would really love it."
The Miss Universe NZ top 20 are due to be announced in the next couple of weeks, with the winner going on to receive a substantial prize package, including an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow, and a promising modelling career with Miss Universe NZ, Nova Modelling and the Variety charity organisation.
Patterson took over the Miss Universe NZ franchise this year.
- Manawatu Standard
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