SINGAPORE - ITE-Carrie's Next Top Model, in its third year, crowned its latest school belle and hunk recently.
Alicia Poon and Yeo Zhi Chao beat nine female and nine male finalists, respectively, to each win a modelling course with Carrie Models International and a trip to Hong Kong to visit the Carrie Models office.
The pageant, aimed at boosting self-esteem, confidence and poise, held its final round on Tuesday morning at the ITE College East campus in front of crowd of 100, comprising students and lecturers.
The 20 finalists were scrutinised by a panel of three judges - Carrie Models International managing director Linda Teo, Ossia International senior general manager Christina Liang-Boguszewicz and The New Paper columnist Yeoh Wee Teck.
It never crossed her mind that she was model or runway material, even for this ITE-wide competition that saw over 300 students signing up.
So nobody was more surprised than the 17-year-old introvert when she bagged the top prize.
"I never expected to win," said the beauty and wellness student, who hopes to become a make-up artist when she graduates.
"I joined because a friend of mine had done so and asked if I would join, too."
Her friend made it no further than the first round, but she was so ecstatic over Alicia's win she cried "tears of joy".
"I was always the quiet girl in the group and I never really spoke much.
I just was never that confident, outgoing girl," said the 1.67m-tall who weighs 43kg.
But that has changed.
ITE-Carrie's Next Top Model may be Alicia's maiden pageant, but that one pageant alone was enough to boost her confidence - so much so that she now feels she may have a chance to break into the modelling world.
But there's one thing that she isn't quite sure about just yet.
"If I was asked to walk the runway in a bikini, I don't think I would do it. I'm just very shy and I don't like being so 'out there'," she admitted.
Like Alicia, Zhi Chao also had no intention of joining the pageant. Instead, it was a "very annoying teacher" who twisted his arm through constant badgering.
The 18-year-old, who is 1.8m tall and weighs 70kg, said: "She kept asking me to join because she said I have the height and looks.
"After a while I got fed up and just surrendered."
But now that he has emerged tops, he seems ambivalent about the outcome - out of pure surprise more than anything else.
"I am kind of happy that I joined because I never thought I would win. So maybe it's a good thing," said the service management student.
Zhi Chao mostly receives compliments on his height and long eyelashes, but that was not always the case. "During Secondary 1, I was a fat kid. So I took up volleyball and from there, I lost a lot of weight and have been keeping it that way," says the aspiring businessman, who intends to further his education at a polytechnic.
"I just want to focus on my studies first before I think about anything else, including modelling.
"But that doesn't mean that I'm writing off the possibility of modelling in the future," he said.
Zhi Chao is excited about the prize package, but his girlfriend of four years, a Republic Polytechnic student, may not share his sentiment.
He said: "I think she'll be angry if I go on the (Hong Kong) holiday with (Alicia). Maybe I'll just go and then when I get back, I'll settle it with her."
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