Miss La Rochelle 2022: Julie Seynhaeve

Rachel Jewell

1.) Did you think that you would win?

Not at all. From the minute I was announced as a finalist, I felt like a massive outsider. I’ve never been the most popular person in the school, I’ve never been the smartest person and I felt like I wasn’t worthy to be in the position I was in. So winning… That was out of the question.

2.) What does winning Miss La Rochelle mean to you?

Winning Miss la Rochelle shows me that nothing is impossible. I’m an ordinary girl, from a small town, and yet somehow, I still won. I realised that if your heart is in the right place and you stay true to who you are, you can achieve anything. If I can do it, so can you.

3.) How did you feel once your name was read out when they announced the winner?

Time stopped for a brief second. To be honest, I kind of went into flight mode during that time. It didn’t fully register with me what had just happened. I was overwhelmed by surprise, happiness, and pride, all at once.

4.) What did you learn during this time, and do you think you would have learnt these things even if you didn’t participate?

My goal when entering Miss La Rochelle was to create more confidence in myself and to learn how to love myself more. By entering, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, straight into the deep end. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. In the end though, looking back, I’m so proud of myself for doing it. I’ve grown a lot since I first entered.

I’m not sure if I would’ve learnt these things if I didn’t participate. I might’ve learnt them later in life. I’m just very grateful to have learnt so many new things at such a young age.

5.) How did you prepare for the event – mentally and/or physically?

I prepared a lot for my interview. I wanted to make sure to be able to reply to any questions the judges might throw at me, like what my goal was, what I wanted to achieve if I would win Miss La Rochelle and explain how far I’ve come with my own struggles. When it came to the physical challenges, I was lucky to have been attending dance schools for as long as I can remember, so going on stage is not something new for me.

6.) Do you think your emotions towards the competition and the people would be the same if you didn’t win?

Very much so. Every single teacher was supportive and loving and even if I didn’t win, I would still have the utmost respect for them for being able to pull off a show as amazing as it was.

All the finalists were super nice to me as well. I got along with them all and the journey that we all went through together, brought us all very close. I am so happy I got to be surrounded by such talented people.

7.) Would you recommend this experience to anyone else and if so, what advice do you have for those wanting to do something similar?

I think the journey of the competition, at least in my experience, was to get to know myself better. I would definitely recommend it to someone who needs a confidence booster, someone who wants to understand themselves. This journey helped me to identify my strengths and work on my weaknesses.

My advice to someone wanting to try it is this: if you feel like quitting, don’t. If you feel like an outsider, believe me, you aren’t. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is terrifying, but if you give up, won’t you look back on that exact moment in the future and regret not finishing what you started? I’ll say it again, if I can do it, so can you.

8.) If you could change something regarding the competition (the people, the timing, etc) would you or would you rather have it all be the same?

I won’t lie, having Miss La Rochelle a week before Prelims was challenging. A lot of stress went into the competition, and after the big show, you realise you have less than a week to study for prelims. But nothing is impossible, and with some organisation and discipline, you can do it. Apart from that, it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life. I wouldn’t change a thing.

9.) Who was your biggest supporter during this time and why?

So many people supported me during that time. My family at home – including my mom, dad, and sister – helped me understand that I was worthy enough to take part in the competition. They have always been so proud of me. My friends in and out of La Rochelle have been such a huge inspiration to me. They encouraged me, motivated me and have been my greatest (and loudest) supporters during the show. They never lost hope for me.

Lastly, the finalists were also such a huge support for me. We all motivated each other, and I got really close to them. It’s amazing that I was able to make new friends in my last year of high school.

10.) Did anything during this time really shape you or have a major impact on you?

There wasn’t just one specific thing that had a big impact on me. The whole journey since April, has shaped me into a new person. Someone who feels more confident in herself, someone who understands her worth and is grateful for everything that comes her way.

11.) Any final thoughts regarding the whole Miss La Rochelle competition and experience?

So many people helped me to get through this journey. Every person in my life, including the teachers, the finalists, my friends, and my family, helped to shape the person I am today, and I will be forever grateful.