The Pride of Two Nations | The Daily Star
12:01 AM, November 15, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

The Pride of Two Nations

The Pride of Two Nations

Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Source: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

Maksuda Akhter Prioty, Ms Ireland 2014, originally belongs to Dhaka, Bangladesh. The first Asian to win a European national title, was sent to Ireland after completing class 9 at London International School, after her father had passed away. Having to learn how to live by herself, Prioty broke all barriers and made a name for herself, home and abroad.
”After finishing high school in Ireland, I joined a local university to study Business Management, while also working as a stock-broker,” says Prioty. In 2008, Prioty's mother passed away and she quit her job to come back to Bangladesh. “I stayed here a while with my family. Soon after going back to Dublin, and having two babies, I decided to change my job entirely,” she continues.  Prioty then began training to be a pilot. “I am currently working as a private pilot and a flying instructor, while building up my hours to become a commercial pilot.”
 Always prioritising education, career, and family, Prioty never had much time for herself. “I was interested in beauty pageants and modelling from a very young age. But I never gave myself any time to pursue it,” she shares. Realising that investing some time in herself will help her life be less monotonous; Prioty built the courage to apply for the Ms Ireland pageant after seeing an advertisement for it on the paper.
“There was an age group for single women over 24, so I sent in my photograph and information,” says Prioty. She was unsure of everything, especially considering the colour of her skin. “I did, of course, think that there is a chance to not win because I look nothing like an Irish woman. I just had the nationality. But, there was no harm in trying!” she shares.
 Within a week, Prioty got an answer from the selection committee that she was, in fact, selected amongst 700 other participating girls for the primary session. “The beauty contests hosted abroad have a lot of criteria to be maintained. We had to bear our own expenses when it came to flying to different places and attending different events. We even had to get our own outfits and make up!” she says. “I had applied for some sponsors, but they were hesitant considering that I am Irish-Bangladeshi, and I had less of a chance to win compared to others.” Prioty had to make do with outfits that she already had in her closet.
During the pageant, Prioty had not faced any kind of racism or discrimination, but the judges did question her differently. “They asked me questions like what the GDP of Ireland was from a certain given year. They asked me this question without knowing that I had a background in Business Management, so I got lucky! I supposed they wanted to test my knowledge on Ireland before considering giving me the title,” shares Prioty. “I also got asked why I wanted to become Ms Ireland, and I said that I wanted to set an example showing the diversity and acceptability of Ireland. I wanted the world to know that even though I am a brown woman, I have the chance to win this as much as any other contestant present there,” says Prioty.
After much questioning and hurdles, Prioty still hadn't realised that she was a true candidate for the title, but she was confident with her performance. “When they announced my name as the winner, I literally screamed so loud, it felt like I shook up the building!”
Upon her return to Bangladesh, Prioty started working to her fullest capability with Shahed Kayes, founder of Subornogram Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works with underprivileged children. The foundation has 2 schools, and with the money earned through those schools, they run 8 other schools free of charge for the students. “I've always wanted to work for the underprivileged. I've had it in me since I've watched my father try to do everything he could to bring betterment into other peoples' lives,” Prioty shares.
 She hopes to come back to Bangladesh whenever possible to further her work with Subornogram Foundation. “I also want to work with underprivileged single mothers, who cannot find work because they need to take care of their children.”
Even though plans of entering more pageants are in the pipeline, Prioty wants to focus on becoming a commercial pilot for the time being.

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