The beauty queen with 2 master’s degrees and 2 PhDs

beauty queen importance of women in education
Dr Soo Wincci is a beauty queen, an associate professor, singer, recording artist, actress, composer, celebrity chef, host, and model. Source: Dr Soo Wincci

Two letters in Dr. Wincci Soo’s name set her apart from all other beauty queens: “Dr.”

The 2008 Miss World Malaysia describes herself as “a crazy doctor” and a staunch advocate for women in education.

In high school, Dr. Soo remembers being told that women didn’t need higher education. They just needed to get married and have children.

She set out to prove them wrong in a way as razzle-dazzle as the gowns she wore in past pageants: by earning a spot in the Malaysia Book of Records for “Most Academic Degrees Achieved By A Beauty Queen.” 

So far, she’s earned the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Laws from the University of Reading, UK.
  • Master of Business Administration from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
  • PhD in Business Strategy, Branding & Social Media from Open University Malaysia, Malaysia. 
  • Master in Music Production, Technology & Innovation from Berklee College of Music, US.
  • Post-Master Fellowship in Live Music Production from Berklee College of Music, US.
  • PhD in Artistic Production from Valencia Polytechnic University, Spain.

Far from done, Dr. Soo has plans to add six more PhDs.

“People ask me what my unique selling point is, and I’d say it is studying,” she says. “Back then, everyone would laugh at me, but it’s obvious now: most beauty queens don’t choose to study more.”

beauty queen importance of women in education

Dr. Soo earned an MBA from the University of Sunshine Coast, Australia; her second of six academic degrees. Source: Dr Soo Wincci

There’s a career to be had after becoming a beauty queen — model, spokesperson, actress are some common routes.

By taking a less conventional path, Dr. Soo amassed so much more as a person and professional. 

Her bachelor’s in law helped her navigate the contracts in the entertainment industry and her MBA gave her the entrepreneurship know-how needed to sustain and market herself as a brand. 

In fact, Dr. Soo earned her MBA on the same day she flew to Johannesburg, South Africa to compete with the other Miss World for the ultimate title. 

beauty queen importance of women in education

Dr. Soo represented Malaysia in the Miss World 2008 pageant in Johannesburg, South Africa. Source: Dr. Soo Wincci.

But life doesn’t magically get better once you wear the crown. 

“You still have to work hard,” says Dr. Soo. “Winning the title puts you in the news for a year, or maybe a month or a week.”

“Whatever title I win, I tell myself this will only last for one day. If you don’t have a new portfolio or you don’t have new skills, you will be replaced by someone else very soon. So I decided, if anything, I can still fall back on education.” 

With that and a dream of pursuing music, Dr. Soo joined the Master in Music Production, Technology & Innovation programme at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. 

“I pitched myself as a producer,” shares Dr. Soo. “I wanted to learn the technology, to see how they do it, how they produced. I didn’t know it would be so hard, and I didn’t expect it to be a programme and industry full of men.”

Where pageants were filled with women, Dr. Soo now found herself in an environment where her gender was outnumbered.

In 2017-18, when Dr. Soo was obtaining her master’s at Berklee, women producers in the US reportedly only made up 2.7% of the industry

Dr. Soo personally experienced about 80% of women in her undergraduate studies, 50% in her master’s, and 20% in her first PhD programme.

In Spain, only 10% of the PhD students are women, as was the case for Berklee’s music production programme. 

But this was never something that deterred her from chasing after her goals. 

beauty queen importance of women in education

Former beauty queen Dr. Soo has released multiple albums as a singer and a producer. Source: Dr. Soo Wincci

From beauty queen to singer, producer, professor

When Dr. Soo initially pursued her music career in Malaysia, she set her eyes on the vast Malay audience. 

“I really love the Malay language, and I wanted to make music in it,” she says. “My friend told me that it was impossible for a Chinese person to enter the market, and I admit that I knew it would be difficult. However, if I could make the impossible possible, then it’ll be impossible for other people to surpass me.”

It’s this persistence and determination that has allowed Dr. Soo to reinvent herself multiple times, especially across five countries at different levels of education. 

“Leave your comfort zone,” she advises. “Leave your country and start from zero. I pushed myself out of the country because I didn’t want to be comfortable. I don’t want to ‘syok sendiri’ (translated: to be full of yourself).” 

“My education is my intellectual property. I just want to see and learn a different perspective from others.”

beauty queen importance of women in education

Winning Miss World Malaysia is just one of the many big goals that Dr. Soo has for herself. Source: Dr. Soo Wincci

By doing so, Dr. Soo has amassed a wealth of experience and is paying it back as a lecturer. 

The associate professor at Malaysia’s Multimedia University Faculty of Creative Multimedia aims to guide her students well. 

“I used to tell myself that if people started recognising me and my work, I would use this attention and drive it towards a cause or a purpose,” she says.

“I’ve had the attention for a while now, so why not channel it into education?” 

As a female public figure, Dr. Soo seeks to inspire inclusivity by highlighting the importance of women in education. 

“The education system in Malaysia still needs a lot of work. We need to reinvent and innovate to go beyond the system. We need to work harder,” says Dr. Soo.

“But I cannot fight alone – we need more women to join in and do their part because if we have the numbers, we can drive the change.” 

Soo makes it a point to share the highlights and challenges of her time abroad. The goal is to show them that she’s been through them and emerged either unscathed or stronger. 

“I hope that one day, the next generation will be educated not just in terms of knowing information, but also in how they face the world,” she says.

“It’s very rewarding when I see my students succeed in their goals.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Soo Wincci (@dr.soowincci)

Outside of academia, Dr. Soo is making waves in various industries. 

The beauty queen is a singer, recording artist, actress, composer, celebrity chef, host, and model, amongst many other titles. 

Apart from holding the “Most Academic Degrees Achieved By A Beauty Queen” award in the Malaysia Book of Records, she also has three other awards:

  • “First Miss World Malaysia to be awarded a PhD”
  • “Most Academic Degrees Achieved By A Recording Artist”
  • “First Miss World Malaysia Appointed As Associate Professor” 
beauty queen importance of women in education

Ambitious and self-motivated, Dr. Soo has a growing portfolio that anyone would be impressed by. Source: Dr. Soo Wincci

So, for all the women out there, here’s some advice from a crazy doctor and beauty queen:

“If you have a goal, you’ll have to fork out 400% of hard work. If you start with 100%, you might only give 80%, and life happens, and you’ll only give 40%. It’s okay to get lost for a while, but you must have a comeback. Learn the skills of standing up for yourself and how to be lonely and independent too.” 

For someone who got her start through her looks, Dr. Soo cautions against believing everything on social media: “Don’t be fooled by social media; don’t be fooled by the trend. Everything is changeable. Have the strength to proceed regardless of circumstances, and you’ll win the next game.”

And think of that “game” as one that lasts a lifetime.

“And last but not least, you’re already brave for taking that first step to doing something,” she says.

“The results are not important, and as long as you make the effort, it will crown your success one day, so aim for the long game.”