R’Bonney Gabriel returned to her hometown in Houston, Texas, last weekend for the first time since becoming Miss Universe 2022 in January.
The beauty queen reportedly attended celebration galas and met with young women and girls on the East Coast and in Southeast Asia.
“I feel like I have a megaphone to really inspire everyone and just share my message of working hard for whatever dreams you have,” Gabriel said during a press conference before her homecoming party. “I mean, my life changed overnight and it happened so fast but I’m just very thankful for it.”
Gabriel noted that her return to the Hilton Post Oak, where her homecoming party took place, was a “full circle moment,” as the venue was where she was crowned Miss Houston and Miss Texas in 2022.
There’s no place like home. It’s great to just be with my family and friends and really celebrate and talk with them because after I won I only saw them for a very short amount of time and then the next day I went to New York. I didn’t get to spend too much quality time with them so that’s what this is all about.
Speaking at the press conference before the event, Gabriel said it felt good to bring home a win for her hometown and state, noting that her victory was “a win for everybody.”
Meanwhile, at the homecoming party, Gabriel also shared her victory with other Asian Americans and Filipino Americans, telling the cheering crowd, “It was a win for Asian Americans, Filipino Americans and just anybody who goes after something that is such a big dream.”
Gabriel also toured Houston and shared some of her favorite local places via Instagram Stories, such as the restaurants Nancy’s Hustle and Gerry’s Grill.
Well, I have a few spots depending on what I’m in the mood for. I’m a huge fan of Gerry’s Grill. That’s a Filipino restaurant in Bellaire. I like to go to Bellaire to eat a lot of ramen, and there’s all types of good Asian foods in that area, so I switched it up a lot.
Before being crowned Miss Universe, Gabriel worked as the lead sewing instructor at Magpies and Peacocks, a nonprofit design house in East Downtown, Houston, that teaches survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking how to sew.
I’m not doing the sewing classes in person anymore since I moved to New York, but now I’m kind of a global ambassador for them always sharing their message. Now that I’m back home for a few days, I will be dedicating a day to go back and get some projects in the works that I can share as Miss Universe.