Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Miss World winner Rolene Strauss.
Meet the new Miss World. Rolene Strauss of South Africa won the 2014 international pageant at the ExCel Centre in east London Sunday. Strauss, 22, a Nelspruit native, who counts women’s rights, health and education as her main causes, was among 122 contestants who competed for the coveted title. She was given the crown by her predecessor, Miss World 2013 Megan Young of the Philippines.
“South Africa, this is for you,” Strauss said after securing her win, according to CNN. “I’m so proud of you and I’m proud to be your representative.”
Her crowning marks the first Miss South Africa to win the international title in more than a half-century, E! News reported.
Miss Hungary, Edina Kulscar, was Strauss’ runner-up. Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit of North Carolina, placed third, E! News reports. Miss Thailand, Nonthawan Nonthawan Thonleg won the award for People’s Choice.
So just who is Rolene Strauss? People magazine says Strauss has both beauty and brains. The brunette pageant queen has four years of medical school under her belt with plans to become a doctor. Her parents also work in the medical field.
Ahead of her crowning Sunday, Strauss has kept her admirers up to date on her journey to the title on the Official Miss World YouTube channel.
A cause near and dear to Strauss's heart is the Always Keeping Girls in School project that helps young women in South Africa stay in school and guide them during puberty.
“We saw that girls don’t go to school when it’s their time of the month, when it’s their menstrual cycle, because they’re ashamed of it. They don’t know what to do when that happens,” Strauss said in her “Beauty with a Purpose” video.
“When I saw this project, I immediately saw health and I saw education, which are my two passions, which is why I got involved in this project,” she said. “All of us think that to be healthy you have to money, right? You have to have shoes, you have to clothes, you have to makeup, that is how you become wealthy. But the greatest wealth is health.”
Besides her dad, who she said helped fuel her dreams to work in medicine, Strauss counts South African political revolutionary Nelson Mandela as one of her biggest role models. “Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is the reason that I can speak, love, and learn freely in my country,” she said in her contestant introduction video. “Thanks to South Africa, I can love my dreams."
Strauss was named Miss South Africa 2014 in March. She credited her win to being herself and having a strong passion for South Africa. “It’s feel so surreal,” she said.