She may be fresh out of High School but 18-year-old Latisha Sialaoa possesses a maturity far beyond her years.
Crowned the new Miss Samoa Melbourne Australia Incorporated last night, the fifth sibling from a large family of nine children says her young age only serves as an advantage when it comes to having the stamina and enthusiasm to fulfil her role.
“Age is just a number,” says Latisha who is fluent in the Samoan language. She leaves for Samoa in three weeks to compete at this Miss Samoa Pageant.
“I am ready to serve my community wholeheartedly and to represent our beautiful city of Melbourne at Miss Samoa.”
Her proud parents Fono and Sialaoa from the Savai’i villages of Sili and Satupaitea, celebrated their daughter’s crowning moment as she takes over the title from her predecessor Lanuola Giselle Price.
Latisha’s family migrated to Melbourne 10 years ago from West Auckland, New Zealand in search of a better life and have made their home in Melbourne.
They are devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints.
Latisha enjoyed dabbing at media studies at high school and has since worked as a junior reporter for popular Samoan women’s publication SUGA Magazine and now Seki Media.
She says her interest in media was fuelled by mainstream media journalism that often portrays Pacific people in a negative light. She encourages more young Samoans to try their hand at reporting.
“For me journalism is such a respected career and not promoted as much as it should be especially to our youth. It is an industry that is so influential and powerful and you have the potential to change perspectives and even change the world.”
She also wants to challenge what she feels is a complacent ideology: that traditional academic pathways are the only options for young Samoan kids.
“Even though I do believe in education, I feel as Samoans there is so much emphasis on Academic success. But education for me is a mixture of life and work experience which is just as valuable.
“I want to dispel these perceptions that you can only be successful if you are an academic which our young people often struggle with and not because they are not bright, but because their talents lie in other areas.
She adds that with today’s technological environments ever-changing and social media being such a breakthrough, this offers more opportunities.
“We can strive for success in so many other ways, whether it’s starting your own business or nurturing your creative side - the options are limitless.”
Director of Miss Samoa Melbourne Australia Incorporated Pulotu Canada McCarthy praised the support of the Melbourne Samoan Community on what was an enjoyable evening for all.
Mormon Bishop’s Tofilau Semu and Bishop Misa gave Latisha their sincere blessings and words of encouragement.
“It is important that we as a community can come together to celebrate and help empower our young women as they take on challenges that will help them grow,” said Bishop Tofilau.
Latisha’s stunning crowning dress sports the famous purple Melbourne colours and was designed by Samoan fashion designer Vaeluaga Luse Iuli of Luse Exclusive Styles.