2018 WMNMSF Dinner

Former Miss Universe Encourages Natta Scholars to “Fail Forward”


Basseterre, St. Kitts – The St. Kitts Marriott Ballroom was the backdrop for an evening of entertainment, culture, education and philanthropy at the 3rd Annual William Marcus Natta Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser Dinner on April 14, 2018. Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad and Tobago provided the keynote address.

A passionate philanthropist, Ms. Fitzwilliam described how her parents instilled charity as a value in her and her sister, through a family Christmas tradition. At the end of each Christmas Day, the sisters would have to choose their favourite gift and then give it to a child in need.

A lawyer by profession, Ms. Fitzwilliam enthralled the audience with thought-provoking and inspirational words. She took the audience on a journey from her childhood in Diego Martin, Trinidad to global ambassador for youth and HIV/AIDS. She noted that, “There are no coincidences in life, if we are open to experiences on our path. All of them become life lessons from which we grow, at a minimum, and flourish personally and professionally.”

Ms. Fitzwilliam shared the serendipity of her visits to the local Cyril Ross Nursery, a home for children living with HIV/AIDS, being discovered by a photographer during her reign as Miss Universe. Children with HIV/AIDS became a key issue for her after she volunteered with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in high school primarily as a way to get out of class. Yet that one decision, unravelled several other decisions that would lead to her greatest moment: winning Miss Universe and in that role being able to influence the government of Trinidad and Tobago to implement new policies related to the care, treatment and discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS.

Wendy Fitzwilliam at 2018 WMNMSF Dinner

“I link these seemingly coincidental events in my life. They had real and positive societal change that I could not have imagined, furthermore planned,” Ms. Fitzwilliam told the audience.

Her advice: “Take a little more risk and encourage our youth to do so by example. Support our youth by not abandoning them at the first setback they suffer. Ultimately failure is fine once we ‘fail forward’.”

“Failure then becomes a lesson on the way to success,” concluded Ms. Fitzwilliam. “All of life’s experiences (the good, bad and ugly) can count positively provided we maintain a positive outlook and are determined to succeed even in the face of odds stacked against us.”

Ms. Wendy Fitzwilliam currently serves as host and co-executive producer of Caribbean’s Next Top Model, the Pan-Caribbean version of the global reality television phenomenon, America’s Next Top Model. She also connects with her fans and listeners on “The Wendy Fitzwilliam Show,” a one-hour weekly radio program that explores how – and what it means – to achieve their dreams.

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