For 30 year old Dalia Stephens, the word ‘disappointment’ has been clearly banished from her own personal dictionary, for she was recently named the winner of Guardian Media’s Dream Maker competition on Tuesday 17th April. The competition, which ran for approximately a month, asked readers the simple question: “Imagine what $100,000 could do for you... Text your dream and Win!” Dalia, who had seen the competition advertised on CNC3 television, texted her dream a total of four times for the Dream Maker competition. She was so sure she wouldn’t win the first prize, she didn’t even tell her family about entering. Inwardly, she was willing to settle for second (or even third) place. But she promised herself that if she won anything at all, some money would be donated to charity; after all, that was how she had been taught by her mother – to always give back. Then she got the call. At first she didn’t comprehend what the person was saying… was someone really telling her she had made it to the final Top Five contestants? When it finally sunk in, she went home and told her mother and sister. Even then she doubted that she’d win.
On that fateful day in question, she prepped her daughter for school and then hurriedly left for school herself – Dalia is a full-time student at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI), where she is pursuing a Diploma in Front Office and Travel Agency. As usual, she was a bit sleepy from having stayed up late into the previous night after tucking her daughter into bed; she’d been burning the midnight oil studying. In class, she was facing forward, focused on her lecturer. A gentleman (representing Guardian Media Limited) knocked, asking who Dalia Stephens was. She didn’t answer; she hadn’t really heard him. He asked again and she answered, eventually entering the corridor to listen what he had to say. She’d won. It couldn’t be... Dalia didn’t believe it until they brought the cheque and held it in front of her face. “I’m thinking, ‘What did I do wrong in school?’” Dalia admitted during a radio interview (post winning) at Slam 100FM. “They said I had won; it still didn’t hit me yet. Then they brought the cheque in front of my face and it still didn’t hit yet! Then I made sure my name was on it,” she said with a huge laugh.
It was then her world became brighter. If another person had won that money, their first thought might have been – buy a car or go shopping crazy! But being the humble, calm person Dalia is, all she could think of was making her daughter’s birthday wish come true – taking her to Tobago. “She’ll be six in May,” Dalia said proudly. In fact, when she had walked into the Trinidad Guardian on Tuesday, something did not quite connect. This couldn’t be the winner of the Dream Maker competition. Who sits calmly and peruses their Guardian newspaper after winning TT$100,000? Apparently, this slim woman perched on the red leatherette chair wielded an uncommon ability to be composed even when the circumstances enticed you to jump and scream and dance and cry, all at the same time. Dalia is now closer to the career she dreams of and $100, 000 richer – all thanks to Guardian Media Ltd. She plans to use her winnings wisely, continuing to be there for her daughter, her mother and the rest of her family, who have been there for her ever since she made the decision to go back to school just a year ago. She hopes to do her internship at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and as she enjoys interaction with people, she will further her studies in her chosen field of Hospitality Management. Thus, a contented Dalia ended her exciting dream ride by saying, “My dream was to give back $5000 to charity and set my daughter right. I am thanking Guardian Media Limited for making my dream come true.”