All hail Cayman’s queen!

Describing Kadejah Bodden as the new Miss Cayman Islands Universe only hints at a fraction of what this 23-year-old Bodden Towner has accomplished. With a bachelor’s in biochemistry from University of Kent and a master’s in regenerative medicine from Queen Mary University of London, Bodden is a force to be reckoned with.

More than a charming, well-spoken beauty, she is a science buff with a passion for the environment and a palpable love for the Cayman Islands community.

Bodden visited the What’s Hot studio to share a little about herself and her plans for the year ahead, as an ambassador for Cayman.

What’s Hot: Tell us a little about yourself.
Kadejah Bodden: I just graduated in December of last year and this year I was job hunting. I was actually recruited to take part in the pageant. That’s kind of how I ended up here. It’s been a really quick process, but I mean, it’s been an incredible journey.

WH: Had you ever done something like this before?
KB: I hadn’t. This was actually my first pageant. It was a lot different from what I expected it to be. … There’s a lot of training that’s involved. We had etiquette training, runway training, dance rehearsal. We had Toastmasters [training], which is really important for public speaking. … I think there is a lot to gain from the experience. You get so much training that I don’t think you can get anywhere else. It’s a lot of personal growth.

WH: What are your plans for this year?
KB: The Miss Universe pageant is coming up in December, so the next couple of months will be really intense preparing for that. It will be a lot of gym and a little more Toastmasters as well. … Other than that, outside of the Miss Universe pageant, I have my own personal platform. I’m really passionate about the environment and climate change. I would like to do a lot of work with that as well. As you know, Miss Cayman is actually employed [by] the Department of Tourism, and obviously our environment is really important when taking [tourism] into account. I would really like to see if I could work on a few projects with them as well, in terms of the environment.

WH: Tell us a bit more about your background and your career aspirations.
KB: My bachelor’s is in biochemistry.

That was the first step in my journey.

The reason I chose that [is] I had a teacher in about Year 9 or 10 [who] pushed me and encouraged me to pursue it and I did.

Biochemistry is a much broader subject than regenerative medicine.

A part of biochemistry was stem cell therapy. I was really, really interested in that. That’s why I chose regenerative medicine as my master’s. … I would really love to be a researcher once this chapter in my life is closed.

WH: We understand winning this competition comes with an academic scholarship. Do you have plans to use that?
KB: I would really like to. I haven’t made up my mind 100% yet but obviously, education is such an opportunity.

It’s a privilege that a lot of people don’t have. To be able to have that opportunity funded is really, really special. … The next step for me would probably be my PhD. You have to be ready for that. It’s a lot of work. It’s really tough. It’s definitely something to consider.

WH: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
KB: I’m really passionate about mind and body wellness, so the gym is really important to me. It’s something I took up around my second year of university. … School was getting stressful and I needed a way to destress. … I’m also really passionate about yoga as well. I think it’s kind of the complete opposite of the gym, so it’s a good little balance. It’s really good for your mind.

WH: What was it like on the stage when they announced your name?
KB: I didn’t move for a second.

It took me a couple of seconds to take it in. Like, wow, that’s me. They called my name. Honestly, I didn’t know how to feel. There were so many emotions. It was really surreal. … I think now it’s kind of sinking in the more I think about it.

I was really happy though and I know my family was so happy too. They were really, really proud.

WH: What message would you like to send to Cayman’s community?
KB: I would just like to say to keep it up. I really like the way our community is going. I like that we’re growing and I like that we are becoming more accepting of new cultures, new things and we have work to do in some areas
but overall, I think we have such a strong and loving community and I really want us to treasure that and to keep that.