Razzilee Oquendo is a former Miss St. John.
With both St. John festival crowns under her belt, Razzilee Oquendo is setting her talented sights on St. Thomas’ coveted V.I. Carnival Queen title.
Oquendo will vie for the crown during the V.I. Carnival Queen competition on Saturday night, April 17, at Lionel Roberts Stadium.
The former St. John Princess of 1999 and St. John Festival Queen of 2008, Oquendo decided to throw her hat in the St. Thomas carnival ring in order to represent her home island.
“I decided to run because I really enjoy representing my island and being a role model,” said Oquendo. “When I was Miss St. John it was such a great experience, I thought it would be really fun to be V.I. Carnival Queen.”
The competition has long been open to St. John ladies, but the last Love City contestant in the show was Ivy Moses, who ran more than 10 years ago. There has never been a St. John resident named V.I. Carnival Queen, so Oquendo is poised to make history.
The Ivanna Eudora Kean High School senior, who will turn 18 on April 7, is not a new-comer to pageantry. Oquendo’s mother has been chaperoning pageant contestants for more than a decade and Oquendo has taken numerous modeling classes.
There is a lot more, however, behind her poise and smile. Oquendo represents her school as the senior class president and as the vice president of Nazareth Day Chapter’s National Honors Society.
Oquendo is also not afraid to break one of her perfectly filed nails. As the captain of her school’s girls volleyball team, she was instrumental in their successful season, which wrapped up a few months ago.
Looking toward her future, this serious student had no doubt about her goals.
“I want to be a perinatologist,” said Oquendo. “It’s basically an OB/GYN who specializes in high-risk patients. I’ve always wanted to be a gynecologist and obstetrician, but I was introduced to perinatology by our family friend Margaret Sprauve, who is a local perinatologist.”
The graduating senior is looking at attending Georgia State University, Emory School of Medicine or Temple University. Before she heads off to university, however, Oquendo — who has been practicing for months —still has intense preparation for the V.I. Carnival Queen show ahead.
“I started preparing for this back in November,” said Oquendo. “This is a lot more tiring than St. John Festival. The festival here was a little less hectic because its during the summer so you can sleep in if you’re up late practicing.”
“But with this, I still have school and have to stay sharp,” she said.
Despite late nights on St. Thomas practicing her walk and dance steps, Oquendo enjoys the time spent with her fellow competitors Britanny Robinson and Shawntay Henry.
“The best part about the whole experience is getting to know the other girls,” said Oquendo. “We’ve been spending so much time together and doing so many activities together we’ve gotten really close. We got to tour St. Thomas and St. John.”
“The St. John tour was really fun because I got to be the tour guide,” she said. “We’ve also been to more pageants than I’ve ever been to before. We went to Miss CAHS, Miss BCB, Miss Sophomore Sweetheart and Miss UVI and I’ve never been to any of those before.”
As the sole competitor from IEK High School, Oquendo has the whole school rallying behind her. There is a school-wide pep rally for her scheduled for April 14.
“The whole school, and I mean the whole school, teachers, faculty, students and alumni are really behind in on this,” said the queen contestant. “People I don’t even know are stopping me on the street and wishing me luck. It’s amazing.”
Oquendo is also gaining support on-line. She has created a fan page on Facebook which has attracted more than 1,000 fans already.
“I didn’t know I had that many supporters,” she said. “This is bigger than just me — it’s incredible. I have fans from as far away as Kuwait and South Korea.”
Along with her chaperone Shatik Stevens, Oquendo’s team also consists of her mother, her brother Raynaldo Oquendo, Abigail Hendricks, Kenya Frett and Ivy Moses.
On April 17 the three ladies will vie in swimwear, introduction speech, personal interview, talent, cultural costume and evening wear segments. The judges will decide who takes home the crown, but the public can get into the action by voting for Miss Popularity. To vote for Oquendo, contestant number one, log on to www.vicarnival.com.
While Oquendo has several sponsors, including main sponsors Chico’s Distributing and Design by Felipe, the cost of costumes, shoes, makeup, hair and set designs are daunting. The Oquendos are accepting donations and selling T-shirts.
To donate to Oquendo’s carnival queen campaign or to buy a T-shirt call Hair’s to You Salon at 779-4055 or stop by the shop located on the first floor of the Tradewinds Building.
Although remaining tight-lipped about the show, expect drama and elegance.
“You can expect some big things,” said Lee Ann Oquendo, who vowed this would be her last show. “This is our biggest challenge and is going to be our biggest show. We’ll be pulling out all the stops.”
Oquendo herself is looking forward to the show and strutting her stuff on the stage.
“My favorite part of any show is the evening wear,” she said. “You feel so pretty and no one can pull you down from that.”
If the final votes are tallied in Oquendo’s favor, the Virgin Islands would be represented by an impressive young woman with clear goals.
“I really enjoy being an ambassador,” said Oquendo. “I think it would be new and great for the Virgin Islands to have a St. John girl as Carnival Queen.”
“I will not let anyone down,” she said.
There will be a special ferry running from Cruz Bay to Charlotte Amalie to bring Love City residents to the V.I. Carnival Queen Show on April 17. Call Oquendo at 779-4055 for information about the ferry.