“I wanted to blow-up stuff.”

Not really a quote you would expect from the newly crowned Miss SA Campus, but Mudinda Denga, who is also Miss Tuks Rag of 2012, is not the stereotypical beauty queen.

Miss SA Campus was held at Hatfield Square on 13 October. The competition is based on an invitation-only process and comprised of four interview rounds that decide the winner.

“It was hectic,” Denga explains, telling Perdeby how contestants were questioned about current affairs and even trade relations. “But it worked out in the end,” she says.

Denga, who is currently in her final year in Mining Engineering, has wanted to specialise in mine blasting ever since she watched a video about it in Grade 11. “I remember thinking: wouldn’t it be the coolest thing to go to work and blow up stuff every day?” she recalls. But how do you go from blowing stuff up in mines to gliding over the stage in an evening dress? “I want to be a philanthropist,” Denga explains.

She told Perdeby that she does not see herself as a beauty queen. “I am a tomboy at heart,” she admits, smiling, “so [beauty pageants are] a bit out of my comfort zone… I’m much happier knowing that now I have a platform to be able to establish my philanthropy, get the necessary contacts, [and] work with the beneficiaries of the university.”

“My intention and vision was always philanthropy,” she says. “People always think that Tuks Rag is Spring Day or Tuks Rag is Pot en Pons. They deem it to be isolated events but I [knew] from the very beginning that it was [a] non-profit [organisation] because that was my key decision in entering [the event]. I wanted to learn about philanthropy and how it works, and understand the gist of it in a safe environment.” In the future, she hopes to start her own non-profit organisation.

Miss Tuks Rag has provided Denga with the platform to access funds and approach companies to further her philanthropic work. Winning Miss SA Campus is just another step towards reaching her dream.

As the winner of Miss SA Campus, Denga has the opportunity of going to Miss World University in South Korea this December. “It is a three-week process,” Denga explains, adding that contestants will be involved in community projects while there, which is what she is looking forward to most.

As the winner of Miss SA Campus, Denga has the opportunity to take part in Miss SA next year. She will immediately take part in the semi-finals and if she makes it through to the top 12, she can use the entire year to do community work. “I would love to get involved,” she says, “to take a year off to do what I am passionate about.”

Photo: Deon van Wyk

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