Hawaiian Filipino American Wins Miss Teen USA 2020

Ki'ilani Arruda

Ki’ilani Arruda, a Filipino American teen from Kauai, Hawaii, won the Miss Teen USA 2020 crown out of 51 contenders during the event on Saturday.

Arruda is the second teen from Hawaii to win the annual competition, according to CNN. The previous Miss Teen USA from the island was Kelly Hu, who won the title in 1985.

 

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Congratulations @kiilani.kauai! Welcome to the sisterhood. 👑✨

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The event, which took place at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, was live-streamed by the Miss USA Facebook page. Allie LaForce, the winner of Miss Teen USA 2005, and Cheslie Kryst, the Miss USA 2019 winner, co-hosted the show.

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I’m walking on sunshine…☀️

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Kaliegh Garris, the winner of last year’s Miss Teen USA, passed the crown to Arruda at the event, which was judged by former winners of Miss Universe Organization.

“I am so excited to be your new Miss Teen USA,” Arruda said, according to The Garden Island. “I still can’t believe it. Every single one of the girls up there with me would have been an amazing winner, and I am so excited it was me. I am so proud to represent Hawai‘i and my home island.”

Arruda, a freshman at the University of Puget Sound, is majoring in molecular and cellular biology on a pre-med track and taking up Spanish as a minor, according to her Miss Hawaii USA profile page. She wants to be a dermatologist by continuing her studies at the Standford University School of Medicine.

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always 🧀’ing

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She graduated from Island School with a 4.0 GPA and competed in volleyball, swim, and track. Arruda plans to compete in swimming for her university.

The teen winner, the oldest of three siblings, credited her family as being her backbone. She enjoys time with her family on the beach, hiking, and gardening in her free time.

Arruda, who advocates for Autism Awareness after her younger brother was diagnosed with autism at age 2, received her Registered Behavior Technician License.

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🦠

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Miss Teen USA 2020 was scheduled to take place in the spring but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked during the final question what the pandemic has taught her, Arruda shared she learned how to appreciate her family and cherish those around her.

Feature Images via @kiilani.kauai (left), AJ Loves Pageant (right)

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