Safia McNeshie. Smart. Sweet. Beautiful. Enduring. Inspiring. Those are only some of the words that I would use to describe her. A woman on the move, she’s determined to push her life and her goals to the limits. To affect the world one giant step at a time. To give back as much as she takes, and laugh while she’s doing it. In a candid interview she spoke about her life and the competition, and you’re along for the ride.
Q: I saw that you are the youngest of four and the only one to earn a collegiate degree…How does that make you feel?
A: Um, great. Mom came here young. She worked all the time and the struggle affected me greatly. I got to see how hard it could be. I wanted to be better. It made me want to set higher goals and strive higher. I wanted to be more of a leader.
Q: You were also the child of a single parent household, how did that affect your drive to achieve?
A: Yes! It really did. My mom was always like “make sure you go to college and become a doctor or a lawyer”. She stressed excelling. My mother, even now that I have a B.A., is pushing for going for my Masters. Currently I’m working at Old homestead Steakhouse as a Hostess in the Meat Packing District. It seems odd with my degree but I have so much going on. But she wants me to go further.
Q: I’m guessing she’s a big influence?
At Pace you were a member of the Students of Caribbean Awareness organization, how important is culture and knowledge of your history to you?
A: It was the first thing I did there. They had a big student fair the first week and I wanted there to be more awareness. Sophomore year it was off campus. I worked really hard on getting people aware and had it reinstated my junior year. I wanted a stronger Jamaican presence as well. I wanted to connect to the culture, have more people involved. I wanted more than just Caribbean nationalities there, I wanted everyone involved. They threw the best events on campus. I was always looking to take it to the next level. I still keep an eye on it even now, although they’re not too keen on having me involved. I understand that, the youth there now want their time. I had mine when I was at Pace.
Q: As a fellow dancer and Track & Field athlete (go you by the way!) that moment your sar in the air for the record-breaking jump, what did that mean to you?
A: Doesn’t compare to high school. I mean it was good, but not my best. I felt that I could have done more. I tore my ACL in the triple jump before that and was working up. So though I was going toward my PR [personal record] it took time. My times in High School were better. It felt great, don’t get me wrong, it just could have been more. It’s the competitor in me I guess.
Q: How did you get into mentoring disadvantaged youth?
Growing up it was an interest for me. I grew up in the church and an evangelist, cousin, and minister were my mentors. They were my support and inspiration without judging me. I wanted to do that. I wanted to reach out to someone. When I got to Pace I appreciated that they had a course. I took the course with Children’s Village. Some students were scared but I was like “What are you scared for?” and I enjoyed it. I learned a lot and basically lead the course. As a RA [Resident Assistant] I was usually helping out. Helped the youth with tutoring and home work, or played games. After graduating I couldn’t go to Winchester so I keep my eye out for organizations I can get into. Ended up with New Your youth Uplift. About two or three weeks ago volunteered and went to the YMCA. We taught them things like how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I am finally happy. I feel like I’m achieving my goals, even though I don’t have much time at all.
Q: A B.A. in English & communication with a minor in Psychology is a mouthful, but in talking to you makes complete sense and fits you. If you became Miss New York 2012 what is the first project you’d sink your teeth into?
A: March of Dimes. I have a friend from college whose child was born at twenty-four weeks. It affected me so much. To talk to her and see what she was going through. To hear what it was doing. It just touched my heart so much. I wanted to help with that. Be a part of the solution.
That is amazing, it truly is, and as a sister to a brother born at twenty-four weeks myself, I thank you for that. I really do.
Wow, we just have so much in common!
You’re right! Makes it easy to talk to you! Q: I understand that you are a big fan of Nelson Madela’s quote:”There is no passion to be found in playing small — in settling for life that is less than the one you are capable of living” Do you feel you are living everyday like this?
A: Definitely am. I changed my perspective. A couple of months ago it changed. A lot of people fear rejection and “no” so I strive to set goals and reach out. I know my drive is intense. I love the girls I’m competing with , but they aren’t as hungry as I am. It’s the competitor in me.
Q: Last question, I promise, what is the first thing you do every morning?
A: It may seem odd but I pray and read my Bible. Growing up in the Church molded me and my morals. Religion helped me at my lowest point. It got me through it. It’s all a test. Then I turn on my music and dancing while I’m getting ready.
Dancing around getting ready sounds like me. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Again, best of luck to you on your way. From another woman who is pushing to live her life to the maximum, I am proud of you and am looking forward to seeing so much more.
Thank you! And I’ll be posting my link soon so that people can view the competition who can’t actually be there. Thank you.
She hangs up and I am astounded. It was like girl talk. No haughtiness, no fussing. Just very nice and sweet at all times. Then, to top it all off, she sends me a personalized email after talking to thank me for the interview and give me her links. Just another personal stamp of Safia McNeshie. It left a great feeling after talking to her. Thank you Safia and the best of luck to you! To Adrian Alicea, who was amazing enough to capture the beauty in a photo shoot, words aren’t enough.