Maria Terlaje is the reigning Miss Northern Marianas Earth 2020. At just 19 years old, she may be young but her wisdom precedes her and keeps her priorities on track. In fact, she describes her winning the NMI Miss Earth crown not in terms of a simple beauty pageant but as a manifestation of the love she has for her home and community and an example of showing kindness to Mother Earth.
“My advocacy relays the importance of choosing love and kindness. I believe that love and kindness within yourself manifests a positive attitude for what is around you, including our environment. I achieve each goal by initiating them with the purpose to inspire through my advocacy. As Miss Earth, I do my part to create projects that embrace both love for one another and the islands we live in. From beach cleanups to speaking to our youth, every small step to make a difference will set examples to the people of the Marianas,” she said.
Terlaje said her goal at a minimum is to inspire one person, hoping that that person will inspire another, allowing chain reactions of love for the environment to grow and inspire more trends for the community. “The secrets I have for success evolved from the obstacles and challenges that strengthened my abilities to accomplish many things. The bricks that were thrown at me, helped me build a foundation to envision the woman I aspire to be. …Taking my own hardships and forming them into my weapon for success diminished potential downfalls and cleared an open path for opportunity because life’s journey is not always easy but I made it my own and that’s all it takes,” she added.
As the CNMI’s Miss Earth 2020, Terlaje said there are many things she wants to accomplish. First is to launch a campaign that focuses on leadership and empowerment for the youth and the development and preservation of the islands, from land to sea. Second is working with schools and nonprofit organizations to help educate the community about the importance of doing their part for the environment. This also include speaking with CNMI lawmakers about coming up with bills or laws that create an eco-friendly CNMI. Third is creating more initiatives that motivate community involvement in important causes for the environment. Fourth is encouraging women to participate in leadership organizations, including running for Miss Northern Marianas Earth 2021, saying this organization is an effective tool to spread environmental awareness.
Terlaje admits that this new lifestyle of balancing school, taking care of herself and Miss Earth duties has required her to make huge adjustments. “…It helps to stay focused on what is important to you. Before my day starts, I list down my agenda and what I need to accomplish that day. Writing down a list of what is most important helps my mind come together to achieve everything that needs to be done,” she said. “Being a leader for our youth, women, and the environment motivates me to leave something special in everyone I come across. Through my love for the environment and my community, I hope to instill the desire to make a difference through community involvement in my projects and plans.”