University of Johannesburg student Shandre Hoffman took the top accolade in the Miss UJ Varsity Cup in Johannesburg on Monday.
As the round-robin phase of the rugby tournament drew to a close, the industrial sociology masters student received the award, with Mohau Matinketsa the first princess and Mavelous Mhlanga the second princess.
Hoffman said she had wanted to use the Miss UJ Varsity Cup as a force for change.
“I feel it is our responsibility to help better the lives of those around us,” she said.
“I believe that if I have the privilege to be associated with this prestigious platform, I will be able to make a real difference on a larger scale.”
A personal experience in 2017 allowed Hoffman to learn how to handle the tough things in life.
“I had to go through hormone replacement therapy and this caused me to gain weight and break out in acne,” recalled Hoffman.
“My confidence took a hard knock and there were times when I didn’t even want to leave my house, but I learned to love myself in spite of my flaws.
“I saw this as an opportunity to continue to grow and love myself, while also spreading the message of body positivity to others.”
She added that former UJ rugby star and current Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi stood out for her as an example to others.
“He was told at a young age he would not make it as a rugby player, yet he still chose to pursue his passion and worked hard to become the success he is,” she said.
“In life, rejection is inevitable, but Aphiwe’s grit on and off the field can be a source of inspiration to pursue your dreams, despite the hardships you may face.”
UJ Sport Events manager Niahm Faherty paid tribute to all 10 contestants in the competition.
“I am so proud of each and every one of these ladies,” she said. “People take for granted how hard it is to step out of your comfort zone and this is definitely unknown territory for a lot of these ladies.
“Miss UJ Varsity Cup will be our official ambassador for the year, but each of these ladies is an ambassador within their own right and they epitomise what UJ stands for.”