The community of Quarry Drive in Champs Fleurs was yesterday celebrating the crowning of their first national beauty queen in Avionne Mark.

The 23-year-old student/model won the Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe title over nine opponents at the pageant's final at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain on Sunday night. Mark will now begin preparations to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the international Miss Universe Pageant on December 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has roughly six weeks to prepare for the competition before she leaves for the United States to spend two weeks working towards the final.

The Express caught up with Mark yesterday while she was at home enjoying her day off, resting after the intense six-week journey to the Miss Trinidad and Tobago pageant. Mark said she was only now coming down from the high of winning but she is also ready to begin working from today towards bringing the Miss Universe crown back home.

"I am ready to get cracking because there is a lot of work to be done in preparation for Las Vegas. I want to do my best and bring home the crown so that the nation can have a Miss Universe in our jubilee year. Everyone had been very supportive of us throughout the training for the pageant and I know that I will have that same support on this next leg of the journey. The experience was for me wonderful, in spite of the hard work and intensity. It was all worth it and I am so happy to have met all the girls and the other people who worked with us," Mark said.

The Miss Trinidad and Tobago/Universe franchise is now held by the founder of the Tribe mas band, Dean Ackin. The pageant was broadcast live by CCN TV6. The audience at NAPA was treated to a well orchestrated programme that saw the finalists appearing before the judges in swimsuit, evening gown and also having to answer questions read to them by host Jason "JW" Williams.

The judges panel comprised CCN TV6 Head of News, Dominic Kalipersad (head judge); Miss Trinidad and Tobago World 2008, Valene Maharaj; former health minister Dr Amery Browne; fashion designer Claudia Pegus; chairman of the SporTT Company, Sebastian Paddinton and Miss Universe 1977, Janelle "Penny" Commissiong.

Along with winning the title, Mark also won the special award titled "Spirit of Carnival" for her outgoing spirit and ability to have fun wherever the delegates went during their training. What sealed the deal for Mark was the answer to the question posed to her. She was asked if the Prime Minister were to offer her a ministry in the Cabinet, what ministry would she choose and why.

Mark responded that she would choose the Tourism Ministry because she was in fact pursuing a degree in International Tourism Management and she believed Trinbago had a lot to offer in the way of tourism and dreamt of being an ambassador for the nation. She added that she would also work on improving customer service on the island.