Wow, by far one of my personal favourite evenings of the pageant week so far has got to be; Mentorship Night. Now, mentorship night is an evening during the week we spend here at the Westin Bristol hotel where we get to listen to a bunch of far from “stereotypical” women tell us about their lives. And though it sounds like a classic case of show and tell, the women we got to meet were absolute gems; beautiful women who refused to stay below the goals they wanted to accomplish. That night we got to hear from Melani Chong, Alexandra Orlando, Katrina Hadden, and Dr.Natalie Archer.


To open the night we had the ever beautiful Melani Chong to get up there and set the tone for empowerment and boy did she ever. Melani Chong is not only a mother of two but is a model, and the founder of Soya Boutique. As a highschool student she found that she was the complete opposite of what she has become today; from highschool athlete to a human super woman. In highschool she found that she was more of an athelete than anything, with role models such as Gale Deaver, until her father tricked her into going to a model search at her local mall where she then got her first call back from Southerland Models. From there she became Fords car model before her career took off for the sky; she found herself working with high end companies all over the place such as MAC, Gucci and Diore. But after working with clothes for so long as a model, Melani found that she was very pulled towards the fashion aspect rather than the photo aspect of photography and therefore became a fashion stylist. Where therafter she went on to create the Soya Boutique which is a skin care line she felt the need to create for the models who were in her shoes who needed quick, yet natural ways to treat their skin. If there was one message to take away from her life story it would be that; you should always remember that there are plenty of opportunities out there (especially when one doesnt work out the way you had planned) and to remember that you can never know everything, so you should always embrace and listen to what others have to say.


Katrina Haddon, Miss #2 of our Mentor Night, and super proud to be there; Katrina Haddon is a plus size model which lead her to become a life coach and to write her self-help book: “Making It In Heels”. She came up not only to tell us her present, but a lead up of her past… Katrina Haddon started off young as a plus sized girl, whereas people in elementary would refer to her as “Big Bird” or “Green Giant”, but she always found a way to push past. And while all though school she believed and strived to be a professional bastketball player, after an injury in grade 12 she realized that it was time to look for a new dream.

Finally with her friends coming to her resuce, they recomended that she should try modelling; and was instantly taken into a modeling agency. But as she remained there she found that she never fully fit in, in which lead her to having an eating disorder. But by surrounding herself with positive fit people, she was able to overcome it, which lead her to move down here to Toronto to work with Ben Barry Agency. She found that she began to get picked for jobs simply for the energy that she brought to the room, and got picked to wear a gown in Toronto Fashion Week that was designed for Project Runway.

Her main point to give to us that night was that; confidence takes time to build and you need to take advantage and use the amount that you already have, for its`s the only way to gain more. She is a perfect example to girls everywhere of a person who embraced who they are, and decided to love every imperfection as if it was perfection.

Katrina`s Four Tips On How To Be a Good Role Model:

1. Take care of your body and yourself

2. Find a passion and forget about the rest of the world

3. Carry of attitude gratitude

4. To forgive- for life is short and holding onto that negative energy is never good


Following her, was our next motivational speaker: Alexandra Orlando. Alexandra is an Olympic gymnast who has been competing since she was 15 years old in 2005 when she missed making the Olympics by 1/10th of a point. And that’s when puberty decided to jump in and take its toll on poor Alexandra giving her what every girl out there originally wants…but never a gymnast. After that happened many told her that she would never be able to get into the Olympics now because she simply did not have the right body type and that she may as well give up now. But she pushed past the disbelievers and  made the Olympics in 2008 and now she loves to go around and share her story to show people that they can accomplish their dreams. And to not be afraid of losing (weakness, vulnerability), to just go for it and take big risks in everything you do.



Then finally we had our host and final speaker: Natalie Archer. Natalie is a dentist and mother who came to show us that it is possible to be a successful woman and raise a family all at the same time. She enforced the importance of education; for it is one of the only things people can’t ever take away from you and that you can control your own destiny. She admitted too to also being our age and not knowing exactly what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, and that it’s totally normal, but when you do figure out what you want to do, start planning ASAP. And finally before she left she gave us 4 messages that she wanted us to take with us:
1.  That women have to ignore stereotype jobs they think they can’t get and go for it anyways
2. Don’t lose yourself and work at what you want everyday because nowadays, 38% of women are bringing money home to support their families
3. Make having children a priority, and to do it before it becomes too late and your regret it
4. Get involved in all sorts of organizations and get your perspective out there.
And that was the end of mentor night! The girls were phenomenal and so inspiring to all of us; it is definitely something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. And at the end of the night we actually all got to leave with a personal letter from Katrina; who had read our bios and written inspirational and motivational little notes about us. It was too cool, and that night was too fun; it definitely will come in handy when we get up on that stage.




Written by: Shelby-Lynn Prioriello

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