AUSTRALIA’S DESIGNER, DREAMER & MODEL WITH A PURPOSE
Coming from humble beginnings, Tina Mukasa was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately, like many born in Sud Kivu in 1998, she did not have a chance to live there as her family fled from conflict and violence inflicted by the Second Congo War. Her family managed to seek refuge in a refugee camp in Tanzania. There, Tina and her family experienced many hardships but the most difficult one Tina recalls is the lack of opportunities and no access to education while in the refugee camp. Life in the refugee camp was terrible, “I came from the poorest, and this was my reality.” Years later, Tina’s reality changed when her family was granted refugee status by the Australian government and in 2005 her family relocated to Shepparton, Australia.
Upon arrival in Shepparton, Tina faced new challenges of integrating into Australian society and learning the language. This was not an easy feat but she managed, and chose to take advantage of new opportunities. Tina found herself passionate about health, fashion, beauty, and leadership. In 2011, she began her journey as a leader by being involved and found herself selected to represent Notre Dame College at the Next Generation Youth Forum, La Trobe University. She strived on and found herself again being inducted and selected in various scholars program such as the Prestigious Melbourne University Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars Program for High-achieving students across Victoria (2014), Building New Generation Program (2014), and the Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation Young Rural Leaders Program (2016). In 2016, Tina Mukasa was also selected as a National ABC Heywire Regional Youth Summit Winner, a writing competition where young Australians got a chance to share their opinions and ideas with the Parliament in Canberra. It is without doubt, that Tina Mukasa, has demonstrated that your past reality does not determine the extraordinary things you are able to achieve if you believe it, and work hard for it. Rather, you can use your past reality, as a motivation to create the future you want. Tina has taken each opportunity and turned it into a leadership moment in her life and within her community.
For the past five years, Tina shares that her interests in fashion and modeling have deepened, and encouraged her to inspire and influence other young people from different backgrounds to follow their passions. Following your passions, won’t fail you, instead it gives you the edge to stand out and places you in places you would never think you would reach. This has been true for Tina, as she found herself as one of the top 16 Finalist for Miss World Australia State competition (2017) and representing Australia in the 2018 LA Fashion Catwalk in Los Angeles, LA’s longest Catwalk in history to date. This year she has also been selected as a Miss Australia International National Finalist, which will be taking place in Sydney in 2019 for the International title.
Tina manages her Brand while also attending Latrobe University for a Bachelor of Health in Public Health. She is the first female in her family to attend university, and attribute this as being a personal choice she shared that “It was personal choice for me to attend the university, I knew that I needed to further my education regardless of the obstacles that came with it.” And despite of challenges she may face, Tina is driven to make a change and believes to be an influencer by motivating others through the way she leads her own life and within her leadership roles.
Message to young Congolese:
Working hard and not getting the results you want right away can be hard but learn to stay consistent in your hustle and embrace the process of what it takes to get where you want to be. NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM. Have a role model, and people you look up to. Work hard towards your dreams and goals despite how hard it may get. Embrace yourself and where you come from. It is okay to fail but what is not okay is to be stuck in the failure phase; but remember if you do it is not the end of the world. I have made mistakes in my journey but I did not let them determine my destination. Grab every opportunity that you get and work hard. To become the master of your work, be persistent. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, how you choose to spend yours is completely up to you.
On what it means to be an empowered Congolese woman:
Standing strong to empower other Congolese women to be able to showcase and share their gifts and talents with the world around them. If I can do anything then you can too. I take advantage of the fact that I come from such a diverse background and there is no shame in that, within everything that I do, I embrace where I come from. I believe that we are all put in this world with a purpose, find your purpose and don’t lose sight of it. Let your purpose lead you.
Tina is a definition of #Congolesegirlmagic. Although her reality began with fleeing DR Congo, losing her mother to the war, and finding herself in a new country full of new challenges, she chose to rise above it and took leadership of her life, and her community.
WE SEE HER, WE RECOGNIZE HER, AND WE UPLIFT HER. PLEASE JOIN US IN DOING THE SAME BY SHARING HER STORY WITH THE WORLD. THIS IS HOW WE CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.