Demitria Rounis

A role model for giving back

December 7, 2021
Author: Eric Zimmer

Demitria Rounis shares her story

After being crowned the Royal International Miss Canada Pacific Role Model this year, VIU student Demitria Rounis will represent Canada on the international stage in Florida next year.

Currently in her final year of the Bachelor of Tourism Management program, the 22-year-old says she got into pageantry “almost by accident,” around the age of 16 when a friend of hers “had a friend who had a friend” who was doing a pageant.

“Someone dropped out and she suggested that I should go into it as it was right in my age division at the time,” she recalls. It was a decision that proved to be a pivotal moment.

“I thought it’d be something fun to do once and I expected it to be like what you see on TV – like Toddlers & Tiaras,” she says. However, this wasn’t the case. “It was totally different from what I expected. The Canadian side of pageantry is more low-key than other types of pageants, the environment is warm, welcoming and has never felt overly competitive.”

After being crowned National Canadian Miss at the National Canadian pageant in Edmonton in 2017, Demitria took some time away from the pageant circuit, before returning to a pageant scene this year that was, like so much else, adapted to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, namely, it was all done virtually.

“We were scored on three categories,” she says of this year’s contest. “An essay, an evening gown walk video submission, and a 10-minute Zoom interview with two judges and two directors.” In the end, the judges “decided that two of us would be good representatives and split the title, so I’ll be representing the west coast and my counterpart will be representing the east coast.”

For Demitria, “representing” her country and community is “really just about giving back.” Born and raised in Nanaimo, Demitria says her goal has “always been to give back to the community that has given me so much.”

Winning a pageant like this helps get her name out there on a bigger platform and “lets people know that I’m a set of hands that they can put to work. Volunteering has always been something that’s important to me and I’ve already had a lot of people reach out to me asking for help at events, so it’s been a wider bandwidth for me to share what I’ve already been doing.”

As part of this volunteer work, Demitria is working with the Hand-in-Hand Intergenerational Storytelling project, a Volunteer Nanaimo initiative that connects volunteers with seniors in the community to help them document memories.

“We’re going to be working with them almost in an interview-type setting and basically, with their direction, I will help them build something akin to a memory book for them,” she says. “Just some of their favourite stories and memories that they can keep for themselves, as well as share with their family and friends as they grow older.”

Demitria is also focused on finishing her final year of her bachelor’s degree this year, although it is not the only program she’s completed at VIU.

“I have my Tourism Studies diploma and a certificate in Event Management as well,” she says.

Lately, she’s been “exploring more of the recreation side of my program. We’ll see where I end up after, but I’m keeping my eyes open to that side as well. I was always very tourism focused when I went into the program, but we’ll see what happens.”

Her degree will be the culmination of her time at VIU that began while she was still in high school. “I was volunteering with Tourism Nanaimo and representing the coast with pageantry at the time,” she says. “Everyone who works with Tourism Nanaimo and Tourism Vancouver Island have basically all graduated from this program, so I got talking to them because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in Grade 12 and was kind of torn between programs.”

It was during this time that a VIU recruiting officer who had also graduated from the tourism program came to her high school. After hearing more about it, Demitria "applied for the program that night.”

As for her immediate plans post-graduation, Demitria says a lot of it will have to do with how things go next summer in Florida at the Royal International Miss pageant.

“I’ll be graduated from VIU at that point, so I’ll also be moving on and figuring out my next steps,” she says. “If it works out and I can keep building on my pageant experience then that’s amazing, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.”

Either way, Demitria plans to continue actively volunteering and doing what she can to give back to her community.

“We have so many great organizations here and people creating purposeful change that for me to not do anything to help would be a waste,” she says. “I have my time here, I may as well use it properly.”

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