Ryan on rise for good

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•Old Selbornian in the running to win Mr PE competition

‘You don’t need big muscles to be a role model’

OLD Selbornian Ryan Karshagen, 21, has been selected as a finalist for the Mr PE 2016 competition, with the winner to be announced at the gala event at the Boardwalk tonight.

The prestigious Port Elizabeth competition is a leadership and grooming project for men between the ages of 20 and 30, labeling its contestants “Gentlemen under construction”.

Event founder and executive producer Heinz Schmidt said the Mr PE brand represents a man with a presentable appearance who is a role model to youth, a brand representative for sponsors and a man that is “able to talk to kings and dine with the less fortunate”.

Karshagen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) last year and is completing his postgraduate certificate in education this year, with the hope of becoming a high school teacher after graduating.

He decided to enter the competition to challenge himself. “Every year since I’ve been at university I have set something aside as a challenge to achieve. I entered not only to benefit myself, but the community at large,” said Karshagen.

Since moving to PE in 2013, Karshagen has devoted himself to community work in various forms.

His beneficiary of choice is the Unity in Africa Foundation, which functions as a channel between corporate companies and education-related projects and NPOs (non-profit organisations).

He is also a ballroom and Latin American dancer, serving as the head of community outreach for the NMMU club.

Last year, he made it to the top three in The Herald GM Youth Citizen of the Year competition, which recognises youth who go the extra mile to make a difference for the greater public good.

Mr PE shortlisted candidates were interviewed by a firing panel of six judges, put through a CrossFit fitness test and psychiatric assessment. Finalists also organised their own fundraising event for brand charities.

Karshagen arranged a wine-tasting event, raising R8000 for charity.

He will stand before a panel of six judges tonight, competing against 11 other men for the prestigious title. Judges include Miss SA Ntando Kunene, Byron Keulemans of Boss Models, 2015 Mr PE Jordan Zeelie, Michelle Brown from Brown’s PR and representatives from Die Burger and The Boardwalk.

If he wins the competition, he hopes to inspire youth with his community outreach efforts. “I want to show them that no matter where you come from, you can achieve anything with the right attitude and mindset.”

His motto, “We rise by lifting others” sums up his goal to see upliftment for the underprivileged. “I am rewarded by seeing the benefits of my work, like a little child smiling makes me feel good and strive to become better,” he said.

While Karshagen is one of the least-muscular men in the final, he uses this as an advantage.

“I prove that you don’t need strong muscles to build a strong community.

“You don’t need big muscles to be a role model to youth,” said Karshagen.

Schmidt explained why Karshagen was selected as a finalist: “He has potential, a great personality, a good streak of mischievousness and not too shy to talk in public and enforce his point on a wide range of subject matter.”

Karshagen acknowledged the role Selborne played in moulding him to become the man he is today and thanked his parents and fellow East Londoners for their support.

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