She loves pigtail pelau and any spicy food. She also loves going to Las Cuevas Beach and to the movies every week, but above all newly crowned Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe, Avionne Mark, loves people.

The 23-year-old student, who is pursuing a degree in International Tourism Management at UWI, won the title on Sunday when she competed in the final of the pageant at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain, against nine competitors.

The residents of Quarry Drive, Champs Fleurs, rejoiced when their home girl was declared the winner after an intense six-week training session. Mark grew up at Quarry Drive and attended Lakshmi Girls Hindu College before she moved on to UWI hoping to quickly get her degree, but she soon faced challenges that she is overcoming as she moves along.

"Getting my degree is a bit of a challenge for me because what I am pursuing is business management and business ethics based and I did not do any business subjects at Lakshmi. I did language and modern studies. In my first year all ten of the courses I was doing were business subjects. I also took a year off and spent seven months doing an internship at Sandals where I worked at front desk operations and was also the hotel's telephone operator."

"When I came back home, I got a job at Sagicor as an administrative assistant and I attempted to get back to my studies. I'm also a brand ambassador for Digicel and I model. I eventually had to leave the job at Sagicor because it was all too much for me and I did not want to leave the brand ambassador position because I love interacting with people, which my other job did not really encompass. I'm also going to finish my UWI courses next year so this title comes at the perfect time for me," Mark said.

Mark enjoyed the experience preparing for the Miss Trinidad and Tobago final although there were some really tough days when she was feeling as though she would drop from exhaustion. It was all worth it, though, not only because she won and will now go to the international Miss Universe finals in Las Vegas, Nevada, and hopefully be crowned Miss Universe, but also because of the discipline she's developed, things she's learnt and of course the new friends she has made over the time.

"Preparing for the final was a learning experience and enjoyable. I am just glad to be home today and enjoy the day off because it was all very intense. From tomorrow it's back to work preparing for Las Vegas, which is only about six weeks away. I'll be there for two weeks before the final and I know it will be even more intense.

"I realised this morning that this is real and it was not all a dream when I saw the sash hanging in my room. I want to do my best and bring home the crown so our nation can have the title in our Jubilee Year. So I have to get cracking and do what I need to in preparation for Las Vegas. There is no time to waste," Mark said.

Mark is the middle child among her siblings and she jokes that as the one in between she is the one who does not get noticed or much attention. Her boyfriend, however, teases her, calling her a 'mummy's girl' because of the attention her mother does heap upon her. Mark, however, does not think she is a mummy's girl in the sense that she is spoilt.

"My boyfriend thinks that I'm a mummy's girl. She is just always there supporting me, even if she can's be there physically. If I have an early morning engagement, she will pack me a nice breakfast and make sure I have a nice big hot cup of tea. If that's being a mummy's girl, then I am. I had six people in NAPA who knew me and were supporting me waving a big banner with my picture on it. They were my mom, my boyfriend, his mom, two cousins and an aunt. They made enough noise to make it sound like a big crew," Mark said.

The answer to the question posed to Mark by host Jason "JW" Williams definitely put things over the top for her. She was asked that if the Prime Minister were to offer her a ministerial post of her choice in the Cabinet, what would she choose? Mark responded that she would take the Tourism Ministry because she is pursuing a degree in International Tourism Management and she would therefore have ideas for tourism.

"It's really funny because I need a job now and that question was just so easy to answer because it's real to me and speaks of my dream. I have many ideas for our tourism industry, including how to improve customer service and the way we interact with the people coming here to visit. I'm hoping that Minister Stephen Cadiz and Penny (Commissiong) are getting the hint that I am looking for a job," Mark said laughing.

Another thing Mark told the Express she likes is music, especially soca music, and she loves seeing all soca artistes performing. She, however, really likes Kees Dieffenthaller and his band Kes because of how they have come into their own since they became a band.

"I'll have to say I especially like Kees because I love how he and his band has grown over the years. When they first came out they were all over the place musically and as they went along they eventually created their very own unique style. That makes me want them to be all that much more successful," said Mark.