'We are all equal' - Miss Deaf Int'l takes on the world
MISS Deaf International 2011, Cassandra Whyte, has been quietly making waves since winning the title, working as an avid ambassador for the deaf community, and by extension, Jamaica.
The 23-year-old arrived in Nigeria for the first time last Monday, declaring, "we are all equal". Using sign language, she told reporters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, that she had come to debunk prejudices against deaf people, especially deaf women in Nigeria.
"I am here to visit and empower deaf people, especially deaf women and to let them know that being deaf is not a disability, and to let people know that we are all equal," she said.
She was received by the President of the Deaf Women Association of Nigeria, Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase, and Oko-Igaire Tolulope Abimbola, chief executive officer of the Most Beautiful Deaf Girl In Nigeria pageant.
The Miss Deaf Nigeria Pageant will take place for the first time later this year.
Whyte's week-long stay in that country saw her travelling and encouraging the country's deaf, and other people living with disabilities.
Just last month, Whyte visited the Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, the only deaf university of liberal arts in the world.
While there, she spoke to young university students and also performed her winning item — Hero by Mariah Carey at the university's Unity Festival. Whyte also met the university's President, Dr T Alan Hurwitz.
While at the university, Whyte also met and worked with Miss Black Deaf America 2011-2013, Ericka Baylor.
A release from the Jamaica Association of the Deaf said Whyte has reported that the experience has been wonderful and that she had a great time visiting Washington, DC and meeting several intelligent deaf persons.
Whyte has also been visiting several schools to give presentations and to motivate deaf students. She has also attended workshops on women's rights and the rights of the disabled.
The effervescent young lady, who took the Miss Deaf Jamaica crown in 2010 before going on to take home the Miss Deaf International crown, will complete her reign in July this year.
She will be in Ankara, Turkey for the third staging of the Miss Deaf International pageant, where she will crown the winner.
Whyte, who was born with a small ear canal, was discovered to be hard of hearing when she was two years old. She attended the Danny Williams School for the Deaf and the Lister Mair Gilby High School for the Deaf. Later, she studied beauty culture and data entry at the HEART Trust/NTA.
She is a social worker at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf and also works with Food For the Poor. Whyte also helps in the dissemination of information throughout the deaf communities islandwide.