Hometown: Duncan, BC
Determined, ambitious, and hard working are all qualities that describe Sara Winter. She feels passionate about empowering women to pursue their goals, and wants to show the diversity we have in today’s society. As a hard working athlete competing against professional golfers on a mini tour, along with representing Canada twice on the international stage, in 2012 and 2014, she realizes how stereotypes influence many, but is determined to break the stigma that beauty pageants are given, and strives to demonstrate that we should never set limitations for ourselves.
Sara attended York University as a honour roll student where she was earning her Bachelor of Science, although she believes that education is crucial, she also feels that life is to short to not fulfill your passions. Taking a risk, she decided to take time off her studies, to pursue her dream. Golf can be a very male dominated sport, and it may feel intimidating for women. Sara saw how she could be a role model for young girls, and make a positive impact. For example, she is a top ambassador for a company called FOREher Sports, where they connect, educate, and inspire women on and off the golf course. Sara’s dream is to earn her LPGA tour card one day, but along the way if she can help grow the game and get more women and children involved, that feels just as rewarding.
At 15 years old Sara signed her first international modelling contract with an agency in Seoul, Korea. Quickly maturing and learning how much pressure women have to look a certain way, she struggled to feel like she was enough. This incident drove her to enter Miss Teen Canada 2011, where she earned Miss Photogenic. After experiencing the deeper meaning of beauty pageants, Sara used her platform to volunteer at Girl Scouts: an organization helping young girls overcome self esteem issues, and Kids Now: an organization that comforts cyber bullying victims. Both issues she dealt with growing up , and felt her relatable approach would be helpful to others.
Sara naturally has a passion for travelling, and feels intrigued to learn about new cultures. Opportunities through modelling and pageants have allowed her to travel , which has opened her eyes to many issues across the world. She aspires to help the youth succeed to their full potential, and achieve their dreams. For example, being a social influencer for a kids golf clothing company, where she got to encourage today’s youth towards their goals, and act as a role model. Although this is just a small gesture, Sara believes that regardless of what struggles you may be facing, having someone believe and support you can go a long way, and she hopes to put together many more projects in the future across the globe.
Sara’s athleticism, determination and positive mindset, make her a unique contestant and an even more relatable role model. Having represented Canada at SuperModel International 2012, and Top Model of the World 2014, give her the experience and confidence she needs to thrive and make Canada proud on the Miss Universe stage.
What are your interests and what do you enjoy doing the most?
I’m lucky to call my job one of my biggest interests, which would be golfing. It has taught me how to have patience with everything in life, it’s a sport where perfection is hard to attain, and you can constantly keep learning, and challenging yourself.
I also love yoga, animals, hiking, cooking, travelling, volunteering and spending quality time with my loved ones.
List any special training you have had (music, art, drama, dance, etc.)
I was a competitive dancer growing up for 5 years at Carolson’s School of Dance, where I trained in jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. I also signed to Barbara Coultish Agency when I was 14 years old, and signed my first international modelling contract to Seoul, Korea, at just 15 years old. Through Coultish Agency they allowed me to attend several acting and modelling workshops, where I practiced my skills repetitively. I have always adored being able to express myself on camera or on stage, and have a true appreciation for all performing arts.
In what sports, if any, have you participated?
I am currently pursuing a career in golf. Being an athlete takes determination, perseverance, and a positive mindset to never give up on your end goal, all attributes that a Miss Universe Canada should have. It has taught me how to be mentally strong, and given me confidence to believe in myself. It’s an independent sport where you fail more times than you succeed, and it has trained me to trust the process, and never stop believing in myself.
Aside from golf, other sports I have pursued growing up include: ice skating, volleyball, softball, field hockey, skiing, and track and field.
Name one person, other than your parents, who has had the most influence on your life. Why?
Growing up my mom became less involved when I was 11 years old, due to substance abuse, and for that reason my parents got a divorce. My dad had to step up and raise three girls alone and take on the role of my mother, and I’m forever grateful for him. But, aside from my father, my sister Mandy has influenced my life in many ways. She helped raise me, and acted like a mother when I needed one. When I was maturing into a women she always reminded me that I am enough, and helped me gain confidence in my own skin. She taught me to not be afraid to stand up for what I believe in , and chase after my dreams, regardless of the circumstances. Mandy influenced me to compete in my first pageant, Miss Teen Canada World 2011, introducing me to the deeper meaning of pageants, and what they had to offer. Without her constant love and support, I wouldn’t be who or where I am today.
What is your proudest personal accomplishment (other than participating in this pageant)?
I made a bold choice to take some time off of my education to pursue golf. Although I strongly believe that an education is very crucial, I also believe that you have to follow your heart. Golf is fulfilling in a way nothing else could compare to, and I knew I would always wonder “what if.” It immediately came to my attention that it was a male dominated sport, and how intimidating it was being the only woman on the course the majority of the time. I realized that this was the main reason I didn’t pursue it sooner. I am proud to say I helped start a women’s empowerment group known as Women with Drive, and am now a lead ambassador for FOREher sports. This allows me to be able to inspire others to chase after their dreams, by breaking down certain stereotypes women are given, and become a role model for young girls, as well as help grow the game. I am extremely humbled to be a part of this movement happening in women’s golf today.
What is the most interesting or unique thing that has ever happened to you and/or what is the most interesting thing about you?
The most interesting thing about myself would be getting diagnosed with Vitiligo, when I was 19 years old. Vitiligo is a rare skin disease that only effects 0.5 – 1 % of the world, and on top of that there isn’t a cure for it. In today’s society there is so much pressure on young women, and women in general to look a certain way, in order to feel accepted, or beautiful. Although it doesn’t affect my health, immediately appreciating how fortunate I am, and how people struggle with much worse everyday, it still effected my mental health, and self confidence. Once I did my research I realized that most cases were much more severe than mine, and there were ways you can prevent it from spreading. My family helped me remember that beauty comes from within, and although Miss Universe Canada is considered a beauty pageant, it is so much deeper than that. It has to do with what you stand for, how beautiful your soul is, and being confident in your own skin. I believe that our imperfections are what make us unique, and being diagnosed with vitiligo allowed me to be different, and shed light on this topic. It’s important to me to always be authentically myself, and relatable to others. Beauty comes from within, and I truly feel like I am the best version myself on the inside and outside.
What is your career ambition and what are you doing or plan to do to accomplish that goal?
To succeed in anything in life I believe it takes time, repetition, and hard work. For the last two years I have been competing against professional and amateur golfers on a mini tour, preparing myself to one day attend Qualifying School, where I can reach my biggest ambition, which is to play on the LPGA tour. With the support of my father and knowledge of my coach , I train and work hard everyday on and off the course to be the best athlete I can possibly be, so I can perform to the highest of my ability. I believe that every failure is a learning experience, and you have to keep fighting and learn from your mistakes, instead of giving up. I have sacrificed many things to try and accomplish this goal, and at times it feels like it is out of reach, but you have to believe in yourself no matter what. I believe if I keep working hard, and trusting my abilities that I will be able to accomplish this goal over time. There truly is no short cut to success, it just takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I also feel that if I can inspire others along the way to do the same, while empowering other females to join this complex sport or any male dominated field in that case, than that would feel like an accomplishment on its own.
What would be your “dream job” in life?
As cliche as this may sound I feel like I am partly pursuing my dream job already. Reaching any sport at a competitive level is extremely thrilling and being able to challenge my athletic abilities everyday, at a sport that is very independent, makes it humbling and rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
On top of that my dream job would incorporate mentoring todays youth. I feel very strongly about helping children explore there talents and passions, and it saddens me that not every kid has that opportunity readily given to them. I want to help educate the youth on the power of there dreams, and encourage them to fulfill there passions in life, and I believe golf has given me a voice and a platform to do so.
Describe where you were raised and what your childhood was like.
I was raised in Duncan, British Columbia. Duncan is a small town located on Vancouver Island. I am very proud and appreciative of where I come from , and as I travel the world, I realize how lucky I am to call it my home. It was an amazing place to grow up because it is very family oriented. My childhood was one of the happiest times of my life, because we were very fortunate to be able to travel as a family, while my parents were still together. My childhood holds all of my happiest memories of my mother and it was a simple time for all of us. Duncan is an extremely friendly environment and I am blessed to have the support of my community through my journey of competing for Miss Universe Canada 2019.
List any interesting or unusual jobs you may have had.
In 2012 I was honoured to represent Canada at SuperModel International, in Bangkok, Thailand, where I placed in the Top 10 on the international stage. Two years later I represented Canada again at Top Model of the World in El Gouna, Egypt. Given the job to represent your country isn’t an opportunity everyone gets to experience, and it is one that I will cherish in my heart forever. There is nothing more gratifying than wearing that Canada sash across your chest, and I hope to achieve to represent my country again, but on the Miss Universe stage this time.
List any volunteering you have done.
I am one of the top ambassadors for the women’s empowerment group called FOREher Sports, a company that connects, educates, and inspires women on and off the golf course.
Other organizations include:
- Children’s Hospital
- Free the Children
- Girl Scouts Organization
- Operation Smile
- SOS Children’s Villages
- Kids Now Organization
- Women with Drive
- Nourish Cowichan Society
- The Hospital Foundation
- Shop Swing Kids
..as well as volunteering at various animal shelters.
What is your most unusual talent?
My unusual talent would definitely be having my purple belt in karate. My dad wanted my two older sisters and I to be able to defend ourselves in any situation we were given in life, so he enrolled us all in karate as kids. I trained with a sensei once a week, and entered competitions where I won several medals.
Where is the most interesting place you have been to?
Bangkok, Thailand – I traveled there for Super Model International 2012. I really respect how much they worship their King, it shows how loyal Thai people are. They’re also known as the Land of Smiles because they are forever choosing peace over conflict. Learning about the Thai culture, and seeing how welcoming they were of other countries, made it a trip and place I will never forget.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years?
A lot can change in ten years, but I would hope that I went back to university to finish my degree, allowing me to work in the pharmaceutical industry. I would like to see myself using my success from my golf career to continue to help grow the game and encourage women and the youth all over the world to pursue their dreams, regardless the circumstances.
Also I would hope to use my science degree to help find a cure for vitiligo, and continue to help raise awareness and shed light on this skin disease, reminding people that beauty comes from within.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t asked?
I would like to remind anyone who is reading this, that it is okay to be ambitious in life, we are allowed to have multiple aspirations, big or small. To be completely honest, there was a minute where I thought, ” If I compete in this pageant, will everyone still take my golf career seriously?” And that inspired me to want to win even more. I am excited to be on this journey representing all the strong women who believe in themselves, and the power of their dreams, and I am honoured to inspire those who don’t. Some may not understand the true meaning of pageants, but I promise you it takes so much more than a pretty face. It’s about being confident in your own skin, having pure intentions, and working hard to educate your mind, allowing you to be the healthiest version of yourself. I realize I have an opportunity to break through some of the stereotypes pageants, women, and athletes are given, and I refuse to let it pass by. I am so thrilled to be competing amongst others to become the next Miss Universe Canada 2019, and I hope to make my hometown proud.