She may not have received the title of British Columbia Ambassador, but Ladysmith’s Jayse Van Rooyen walked away from the program with two awards, a scholarship, numerous top five placements, new friends and more self-confidence.
The 20-year-old, who was a Ladysmith Princess in 2010-11, was the only candidate from Vancouver Island in this year’s British Columbia Ambassador Program, and she recently took part in the final week of the program in Merritt in late August.
In Merritt, Van Rooyen won the Friendship Award and the People’s Choice Award, and she received a scholarship for Vancouver Island University. She placed in the top five for the Fundraiser Award, Public Speaking Award, Community Presentation Award and the Promotion Award.
“It went so well,” said Van Rooyen. “It was so overwhelming in a good way.”
Van Rooyen is particularly proud of winning the Friendship Award, which is similar to the Miss Congeniality award she won in the Ladysmith Ambassador program.
“It was the coolest award for me to win,” she said. “I just burst into tears the second I won the award. It’s such an honour because the girls vote for that one. Being in such a close competition, it’s nice to know they respect you.”
Van Rooyen was excited to place in the top five for public speaking. She says she was never very good at it, and she did not place in the speech portion of the Ladysmith Ambassador program, so she feels like she has come very far.
“I think that’s what the program is all about — progressing,” she said.
Van Rooyen was also proud of placing in the top five for the Community Award, which is a combination of her community presentation and her community speech.
“I was top five for best representing Ladysmith, so that was really cool,” she said. “I was on par with the girls who won a title, and I was really happy. I felt like I’d really represented Ladysmith to the best of my ability, so I was really happy to win that award.”
Van Rooyen says her favourite part of the B.C. Ambassador Program was being in Merritt and telling people all about Ladysmith.
“It’s a really cool way to promote the town,” she said. “I loved talking about Ladysmith. I could have talked about it until my face went blue.”
Van Rooyen’s community presentation was her favourite on-stage aspect of the week. She dressed up as an oyster and talked about Ladysmith’s past, present and future.
Van Rooyen also loved getting to know 11 new people from around B.C. whom she now calls friends.
“I loved meeting the candidates and getting to know a very diverse group of girls,” she said. “Even though it’s a hard competition, everyone was so encouraging. It’s so cool. I now have friends absolutely everywhere. It’s so nice because that’s what you want to do — you want to branch out and spread your horizons. That was the coolest part for me.”
For Van Rooyen, the hardest part of the program was the three-hour knowledge exam.
Van Rooyen felt lucky to have a lot of family and friends in Merritt.
“I was the furthest away, and I had the most people there,” she said. “It’s so nice to have that support. I know the community supported me so much, and I had good representation there, so that was nice.”