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HPU sweeps state beauty pageants

by Patricia Lia Synephyias, staff writer


Seven of the 15 contestants at the June 18 Miss Hawai‘i pageant were HPU student, and with the crowning of political science major Olena Rubin, HPU not only added another queen to its ranks but swept the finalists with first and second runners-up Amber Stone and Lyanna Tumaneng! A month earlier, HPU’s Jennifer Fairbank had been crowned Miss Hawai‘i USA.

Rubin was crowned Miss Hawai‘i 2004 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Her next step is competing for the Miss America title in Atlantic City on Sept 18.


The national pageant will be another opportunity for both HPU and Rubin to gain national recognition, as well as for Rubin to win even more scholarships and promote humane values.


Each year a new Miss America is selected. Three months prior to the selection, each state has to pick a representative. The choice for Hawai‘i, according to Rubin, was not easy. The criteria? Beauty, of course. But Rubin says that Miss Hawai‘i must also be educated and ambitious. Her intellectual achievements and innate talents must outshine her physical attractiveness.

“ Miss Hawai‘i is a role model, mentor, and businesswoman,” Rubin said, and she added: “[the] primary focus is on the interview, talent, and commitment to community service.

The Miss America Organization is nonprofit and aims at empowering women. The pageants, for one thing, provide scholarships to winning contestants. This is the number one reason why Rubin participated. “I needed the scholarship money for school,” she said. The goal of each Miss America is to better the world through applying her perspective to a year’s activities in which she collaborates with government agencies and businesses in order to promote certain areas of legislation.

Another purpose of the Miss America contest is to celebrate the ethnic diversity of the United States. It is an opportunity for demographic minorities to speak out and take action in the eyes of the nation. During the past four years, America has seen two African-American and one Hawaiian contestant being elected Miss America.

“ The Hawaiian woman is revered for her beauty and grace,” said Rubin who, with Chinese, Polish, Russian, and Jewish ancestry is a perfect example of ethnic diversity and an excellent representative of Hawai‘i and its blending of cultures.

Rubin was born and raised on Kaua‘i and has traveled around the world. She has participated in beauty pageants since she was 13 years old. She won the Miss Garden Isle title in 1998, the Miss Kaua‘i title in 1999, and Beauty of the Beach in 2003. In addition, Rubin is an actress and singer who auditioned for American Idol, and a part-time deejay at KIKI I-94. Her platform is: “The ABCs of HIV: promoting abstinence, being monogamous, and advocating condom use.”
At 23 years old, and if she is not elected Miss America, she intends to get her degree within the next two years and become a speech therapist.

First runner-up Amber Stone, who happens to be Miss Honolulu, is also an HPU student, born and raised in Kane‘ohe, Stone counts two other Misses Hawai‘i in the family. Her sisters Lani and Auli‘i Stone were elected Miss Hawai‘i in 1991 and 1997, respectively.

Her sisters’ experiences motivated Amber, who is 24 and who owns an administrative services company called Pohaku Services, to compete this year. Running on a platform that encourages voter participation, she won both scholarships and speaking opportunities.

The second runner-up is also an HPU student, Lyanna Tumaneng. Tumaneng was born and raised in Kailua-Kona and is of Caucasian and Filipino ancestry. She has been a professional international hula dancer and was a rodeo girl in high school. After competing in the Miss America pageant system for three years, she describes herself as “driven” and feels great about being the second runner-up.

Participating, she said, “pushes you to be in great shape and to be aware of local and world events.” Tunameng added: “And it allows you to showcase your talents in front of a live audience.”

Tumaneng, who is also Miss Island Ilima, has spoken at the American Heart Association, Positive Connections, and HI Impact. She emphasize the importance of living healthily to avoid obesity.


2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
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