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Hamilton doctor courts Miss Universe crown

A Hamilton doctor is trading her Shortland Street lanyard for a pair of stilettos to vie for the title of Miss Universe New Zealand.

The switch may seem strange, but Sarah Hensby-Bennett's passions go hand-in-hand.

The 28-year-old works on the mental health ward at Waikato Hospital and well-being has always been her niche.

She wanted to cure cancer when she graduated high school; now she wants the crown.

"The main reason I would love to become Miss Universe is to use the position as a way to talk to young people about health," Hensby-Bennett said.

She took up a science degree and researched tumours, but it wasn't until she met a cancer survivor that she realised she was at the wrong end of science.

Calling herself a "recovered Aucklander", Hensby-Bennett said she fell in love with the hospital and Hamilton after interning​ there in 2016.

This is her first time taking part in a Miss Universe pageant.

"I'm a cancer scientist and a doctor. I'm completely out of my depth with this," she said.

Miss Universe New Zealand is the country's national beauty pageant which feeds into the international Miss Universe competition.

In 2012, Miss Universe NZ was the first to remove the bikini parade from their live show.

Hensby-Bennett said its abolishment was a step towards promoting body confidence.

"It shows that New Zealand is leading the way in changing the face of what a beauty competition is.

"The judges have a good grasp of what beauty is... beautiful is all the way through."

She also said the contestants weren't told to lose or gain weight, but were given information on how to eat healthy.

In May it was announced Hensby-Bennett made the Top 20. Alongside her is an engineer, lawyer, pilot and a neuroscientist​.

"As a little girl I watched Miss Universe and Disney princesses and as I went through high school I was made to feel I had to choose one or the other, and I really didn't like that.

"You can be a doctor and still be interested in ball gowns," she said.

Hensby-Bennett returns from a Miss Universe week-long retreat in Thailand on Thursday.

The Miss Universe New Zealand Grand Final will be streamed live from Skycity​ Auckland on August 12.Read more at:http://www.marieprom.co.uk/prom-dresses-shop-in-london | http://www.marieprom.co.uk/prom-dresses-shop-in-manchester

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