Melanie's mission to raise skin cancer awareness
A Glynn woman is using her success as a beauty pageant contestant to help raise awareness of skin cancer.
Melanie Delaney (24) recently qualified for the final of Miss Universe Ireland (MUI) for the second year in succession and will represent Wexford in a gala event at the Mansion House, Dublin on August 1.
And while Melanie hopes to improve on last year's runner-up position and progress to the Miss Universe finals in South Korea in December, her ambitions go beyond just winning the competition.
In her role as an Oncology Pharmaceutical Technician in St Vincent's Private Hospital she deals with skin cancer patients on a daily basis and is uniquely qualified to discuss the causes of the disease.
'I'm really passionate about raising awareness for skin cancer, it's the most common form of cancer in the country. I decided to look into sun bed advertising as I was aware that using a sun bed even once before the age of 35 increases a persons risk of developing skin cancer by 59%. From my research I was then able to identify a number of sun bed businesses within Ireland who were promoting false and misleading health claims.'
But Melanie didn't stop there. She then forwarded her findings to Minister for Health, Simon Harris. As a result of her research, a number of premises were investigated with enforcement actions taken against those found to be in breach of the law.
'I had lots of people messaging me afterwards to say they didn't realise sunbeds were so dangerous,' Melanie says.
With hopes of eventually becoming a Senior Pharmaceutical Technician Melanie is committed to a career in oncology. And although her success in last year's MUI has led to regular modelling work, she believes she can combine the two.
'I want to continue and incorporate modelling with a successful career. I would like to progress in my career, it's a very rewarding job and not one very many 24 year olds do.'
Furthermore, her work in St Vincent's has helped to dispel one of the most common myths surrounding competitions like Miss Universe.
'There's a misconception around pageants, I want to work towards breaking those stereotypes, it's not just a pretty girls contest,' said Melanie.
Another stereotype the Glynn woman is keen to tackle centres around a condition which, at one point, threatened to derail her own academic ambitions. Diagnosed with severe dyslexia as a child Melanie found school incredibly difficult and recalls asking her parents if she would ever be able to read and write like her peers.
But having overcome her condition and forging out a career in a highly competitive field, she wants to show the world that people with dyslexia can be high achievers.
'It's a huge taboo subject and it's difficult to speak about. People tend to box you off and say you won't be able to do anything. But I don't look at dyslexia as something which should hold you back in life,' she said.
The final of Miss Universe Ireland will be streamed live on its Facebook page on August 1.