Another Filipina beauty takes the crown: Ki’ilani Arruda is now Miss Teen USA.
The Fil-Am student from Hawaii bested 50 contestants to be crowned the winner in the beauty pageant on Saturday, Nov. 7 held live in Memphis, Tennessee.
Arruda was stunned with the win, as seen in her emotional reaction during the coronation night where she repeatedly thanked the people around her.
She is in her first year of college at the University of Puget Sound, taking up molecular and cellular biology and minoring in Spanish.
Arruda advocates for autism awareness after her own younger brother was diagnosed with autism, as per her profile on the Miss Hawaii USA website.
She emphasized her closeness to her family during the Q&A portion of the pageant when she was asked what the pandemic had taught her about life.
“For me, especially, it has taught me how to appreciate my family,” she said. “I got to spend so much time with my family, my little sister, my little brother. I love them dearly, and I know that soon, in spring, I will be going off to college, and I won’t have those precious moments with them.
In a post-pageant presscon, Arruda named Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray as her favorite Miss Universe winner.
“I’m a little biased,” she said. “Of course, Catriona because I am half Filipino myself and her reign was so amazing, and I’ve always looked up to her as a role model.”
Congratulations, Ki’ilani! JB