When I first met Ruby B. Johnson-Kamara in December 2011, it was to talk about her role as the founder and CEO of When You Believe Foundation. Little did either of us know that less than a year later the two of us would sit down again, in the same café, for another chat; only this time for something more exciting! It seems Ms. Johnson-Kamara truly lives out her own creed because not only does she inspire young girls and women that anything is possible “when you believe,” she is an example of what is possible “when you believe.”
On Saturday, June 30, 2012, in a warm auditorium (the result of a massive thunderstorm which left most of the Washington, DC/Maryland metropolis without electricity) Ruby beat out seven other contestants to become the 5th Miss Sierra Leone USA (MSLUSA), a position she will hold for the next two years and which she looks forward to serving to the best of her abilities. I sat down with the reigning beauty queen, for an exclusive interview about her win, her platform, her vision and how she plans to juggle her new crazy [x2] life.
Ruby B. Johnson-Kamara is a beautiful young lady. A minute in her presence will have you beaming by the time she’s through with you. She wears her beauty well, both inside and out. Armed with a bubbly persona and straight-forward banter, Ruby is even all the more personable. It is no wonder that she danced, smiled and talked her way into the judges’ hearts on the night of the pageant. Hearing her speak about her plans for the future makes one wonder if such bravery existed a few years back, as it does today. It is certainly a different time and place now and Ruby’s feet are firmly in place, claiming what is rightfully hers – confidence, big dreams, a willingness to serve, and a yearning to succeed.
Born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Ruby migrated to the United States in the early 90s with her family during the height of the civil war. She attended and graduated from high school where she was very actively involved in the African club and excelled academically. She is currently a final year student at Virginia Tech studying Mining and Mineral Engineering and minoring in Women and Gender Studies.
Her platform for the Miss Sierra Leone USA pageant focuses on Service, Health, Education, Rights and Opportunity, a concept she elegantly calls SHERO, and which she hopes to incorporate into the mission and goals of the Miss Sierra Leone USA Women’s Leadership and Scholarship Pageant, which this year focuses on the advancement of safe motherhood in Sierra Leone. Each facet of SHERO plays a major role in the transformation of the maternal health of women in Sierra Leone and on the African continent as a whole.
Ruby is proud to represent Sierra Leone. If she doesn’t say so herself, it is evident in the way she carries herself and the in the way she talks about her home country, Sierra Leone. She certainly wishes to live up to the expectations others have of her. But more importantly, she wants to live up to her own expectations and to serve the Sierra Leonean community both at home and in the Diaspora as best as she can. She hopes to merge the mission of MSLUSA and that of When You Believe Foundation and the SHERO concept to implement educational programs that focus on increased awareness of the need for safer maternal health practices in Sierra Leone.
Ruby feels elated about winning the Miss Sierra Leone USA title. (Follow her journey on her blog at http://www.officialmisssierraleoneusa.blogspot.com) Yet, she is also very much aware that her new journey requires a lot of focus, continued hard work and personal growth. She plans to remain humble, grounded and focused throughout her reign and it already shows. She is quick to acknowledge her faith in God and to give him credit for how far she’s come at such a young age. Ruby’s heart is in the right place, and so is her passion to make a difference. And while she already works tirelessly to empower young girls and women to live their best possible lives, this new challenge only builds upon what she already knows and knows very well – how to persuade, communicate and inspire.
And it deserves mentioning that the mission of the Miss Sierra Leone USA pageant is noble and wins my support despite my slight aversion for pageantry. And it is mostly because just like the Miss Africa USA pageant, Miss Sierra Leone USA runs on a policy that values intelligence over physical beauty. Its humanitarian focus sheds light on some of Sierra Leone’s most pressing social issues and offers contestants the chance to offer themselves in service to great causes through which they’re able to make a difference. This makes the women who contest even more beautiful! And Ruby B. Johnson-Kamara is exceptionally beautiful.
Afrikan Goddess wishes her a very successful reign!
Photos Credits: Photographer, Omar Rafik of Life Depicted. http://www.lifedepicted.com/Portfolio/Events/Miss-Sierra-Leone-USA-Pageant/24059177_KjZ69p#!i=1953688111&k=BCHVvGm