Rukeshma is the current Mrs. Universe Fiji Official. A high teacher by profession, in the last 20 years in Australia, Rukeshma has supported many migrants, refugees, and International Students with their English language skills and looking after their welfare needs at the same time. She also spends her time volunteering for several organisations, such as the Rural Fire Service and Meals on Wheels to name a few.
She is also the founder and president of a charity organisation called Global Women where she raises funds for Breast Cancer research and Beyond Blue. This organisation aims to focus on women’s health and well-being, and she seeks to educate, encourage and empower women through her platform. She is also a host for International Woman’s Day and was awarded the Emerging Woman Award in 2021.
Rukeshma is an experienced ramp and print model. She recently came in the top two at the Wonders of Women, Fashion Modelling, and Pageantry Awards, where she was awarded the Woman of Champion award at WOW awards in 2021. She is a fashion model for Lavashe Couture, showcasing their Island range of designs at shows. She is also a model for Luekbook, showcasing their clothing for plus-size women from sizes 14 and upwards. Prior to this, she has been with Allure and Attitude, where she has showcased designers such as Punjabi Trends and Kaur Collections. An avid traveller and spending family time are things she likes doing, away from her very busy life.
GEQ magazine recently caught up with Rukeshma to discuss her journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the pageant industry?
I got into the pageantry industry by participating in the Curves and Curls International pageant. From there, I was unstoppable and participated in many pageants after that.
How were you actually ‘discovered’?
I was a ramp model for an ethnic collection and participated in a sari competition before pageantry. Several people recommended me to the pageant director as a prospective candidate, and I was discovered into the world of pageantry.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?
The most memorable moment in pageantry so far was when I was crowned Mrs. Universe Fiji Official. This was a pageant that I thoroughly enjoyed because of the director’s professionalism and the wonderful friendships developed with other queens.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I have met some very beautiful queens in the industry that are really genuine. Mentors have supported older queens like me, and I would like to mention Sue Turner, who has always listened to and encouraged us in the best way possible.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
I have learned that a queen is not defined by having a sash and crown but by the work she does with her title, which truly defines her—using her title as a platform and advocacy to make a difference for other women and young girls in our society.
Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?
I believe in my capabilities and never lose focus that outside characteristics do not define a true queen. There are younger queens in pageantry, but I always believe that the young queens can learn a lot from older queens because of their wisdom and holistic approach to everything, as I find most queens are very self-centered and it’s all about them.
I remain grounded as I am committed to making a difference to other queens through mentorship or the broader community through my charity organisation, Global Women.
Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?
Yes, most definitely. They admire my courage and passion for being involved in pageantry in my fifties. They cannot always attend the events due to work and study commitments, but I know I have their full support.
What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.
My future plan is to continue using my title to make a difference in this world. I would like to take on more of a mentorship role and organising of pageants rather than participating in future.