Categorized | Featured, News

Three isle students vying for Miss Hawaii (June 7)

Jeanne Kapela and Alyssa Ishihara take a break backstage during rehearsals for the Miss Hawaii pageant. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Jeanne Kapela and Alyssa Ishihara take a break backstage during rehearsals for the Miss Hawaii pageant. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Three of the Big Island’s most outstanding young women take the stage Saturday, vying to be the next Miss Hawaii.

Jeanne Kapela is the reigning Miss Kona Coffee and Alyssa Ishihara holds the Miss Aloha Hawaii title. Tiffany Kutsunai, a Kona native, currently reigns as Miss Oahu.

The Miss Hawaii winner goes on to represent the state at the national Miss America pageant.

Since being crowned Miss Kona Coffee, Kapela kept a journal and shared a few entries with Hawaii 24/7 ahead of the big show.

Kapela, 19, attends Kapiolani Community College and is studying broadcast journalism. The Konawaena High School graduate is the daughter of Keahi Kapela and Clifford Gaspar.

Alyssa Ishihara and Jeanne Kapela pose during one of their many public appearances. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Alyssa Ishihara and Jeanne Kapela pose during one of their many public appearances. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Journal Entry 1: Yay, I won

After months of hard work and dedication, pageant night came and went in the blink of an eye and I was awarded the title of Miss Kona Coffee.

It was a moment I have been dreaming of since I was little.

I remember feeling so nervous waiting to hear the results, and then the most joy I had ever felt in my life, followed by not just normal tears of joy, but rivers of tears!

Winning was the greatest feeling in my life, not because of the crown (which is an awesome bonus) but what the crown and title represent.

The opportunity to be an ambassador for my community, to represent my hometown and to inspire the next generation of scholarship pageant hopefuls is such a great honor and also a huge responsibility. I admit I am a tiny bit nervous, but I know I am up to the challenge, especially with all the amazing support from the entire community.

One of the most important dates on the year’s calendar is the Miss Hawaii pageant in June. And I’m really looking forward to the chance to compete for the title.

It’s an honor that no Miss Kona Coffee has yet to achieve (let’s hope I will be the first of many to win!)

Alyssa Ishihara and Jeanne Kapela at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Picking Contest in November 2013. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Alyssa Ishihara and Jeanne Kapela at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Picking Contest in November 2013. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Journal Entry 2: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

It was such an honor to be a part of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival! I had the opportunity to meet and greet so many farmers, artists and vendors during those 10 days and came away with a much deeper appreciation for what they do to promote our special brand of coffee.

Although everything was fun, I’d have to say my favorite part of the festival was performing at the hoolaulea on the final Saturday. I danced a hula call “The Hawaiian Lullaby,” which is more commonly known for the one line that says “Where I live there are rainbows.”

It brought overwhelming amounts of love to my heart because it describes so perfectly my love and appreciation for Kona my home and its people.

Other events I took part in were the “sip and spit” at the cupping competition, the recipe contest, the scholarship bowling tournament, the bon dance, festival dinner and concert.

I also got to take part in the coffee picking competition. Growing up on a coffee farm and picking coffee all my life, I thought I had a decent shot, but I had not even a glimmer of a chance going up against the pros!

I feel blessed to have been apart of this amazing week and represent such a wonderful industry, for I have never felt so much love and support in my life.

I would just like to give a big mahalo to everyone at UCC (Ueshima Coffee Company) Mel Morimoto (festival president), Norman Sakata, the festival board and everyone who put their precious time and effort into planning such a wonderful event.

I learned so much about Kona coffee and the people who are champions of the industry. I know now that for the next 51 weeks, I get to be a champion for all those people.

This would be a good time for me to just say mahalo for allowing me to be apart of it!

Journal Entry 3: Downtime

After the whirlwind of festival events, I finally found time to breath, reflect, focus on my school work and begin refining my pageant platform, which is the importance of continuing your education.

For anyone thinking about entering the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival competition next year (which I highly recommend, of course!), keep in mind you will be thrown into a massive whirlwind.

I must admit I am having some issues learning to balance everything — living on a separate island away from most of my family and friends, keeping up with my school work, scheduling shifts for my part-time job, attending University of Hawaii dance team practices and events, working toward the Miss Hawaii pageant, and planning for my next Miss Kona Coffee appearances.

Oh, and I recently found out, I actually have to schedule time to sleep!

It’s a pretty tough learning curve, but already I have grown incredibly and am so proud of who I am becoming.

Journal Entry 4: Decisions

After a lot of thinking and planning, I have reached a decision that was fairly difficult and pretty sad for me personally, but I know it was the right one given my commitments.

I have decided to let go of my position as a member of the University of Hawaii – Manoa dance team so I can focus on my duties as Miss Kona Coffee, along with my journey to the Miss Hawaii pageant.

The team holds a special place in my heart and I am forever grateful for all I have learned. I fully intend to audition again once my Miss Kona Coffee journey is over.

For now, I am determined give my whole heart to the community of Kona and help promote its world famous coffee. On a more selfish note, this a once in a lifetime opportunity and I know it’s my ONE SHOT to win Miss Hawaii, so I have got to give it everything I’ve got!

Jeanne Kapela ready for a Christmas Parade. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Jeanne Kapela ready for a Christmas Parade. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Journal Entry 5: Christmas Parade

This week, I got to have pupus at a wonderful local restaurant Huggo’s on the Rocks with the editor of Hawaii 24/7 herself! Karin and I have been long-time friends and she is almost like a big sister who has watched me grow up through middle school, high school and into my college years.

A few years back, I got to shadow her at a Miss Kona Coffee pageant and ever since that day she’s told me I should go for it! When I said I wanted to write a blog about my year as queen, she suggested I contribute journal entries to Hawaii 24/7. And that’s why you are reading this now.

The next day, I got to grab lunch with my interview coach Ranae Kanae Bamsey, who is also an accomplished photographer. I am really grateful for her constant support and guidance.

After that, I had a jam-packed weekend already planned out for me.

Saturday started with our official crown shoot, photographed by our official pageant photographer Brittin, directly following the photo shoot.

I had to wear my best winter get-up to brave the Waimea cold! Thankfully it wasn’t too cold but being the Kona girl I am, I was freezing! But I really did have the time of my life!

It was great to see the faces of little ones light up and scream at me ‘Happy Holidays.’

I truly live to inspire so I had a blast!

Bright and early Sunday, I dressed up to take part in an awesome South Kona fundraiser hosted by Kealakekua’s own Sundried Specialties. Awesome lithe fresh fish market with the most killer grinds and some great local entertainment talent and crafters.

If you haven’t tried Bryan’s fish sandwich with a lobster crab cake, you better head over and say I sent you!

I’m being completely serious when I say they have great food and service not to mention the most giving hearts.

The proceeds from that day went to Laulima (helping hands), an organization that gives to those less fortunate.

It’s days like these that I am reminded how great it is to see successful people in our community giving back. And another reason I am so very proud to wear this crown.

Bryan offered me the opportunity to come cook with him anytime. So we will see if I’m as graceful in the kitchen as I am on stage.

Journal Entry 6: Back at West Hawaii Dance Academy

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my home dance studio for the Christmas Ohana showcase.

Being able to go back to the studio that really molded my talent from the beginning and was such an integral part of my youth was awesome! I’m so glad to see the the next generation of Kona’s ballet dancers thriving and glancing so beautifully, maybe one of those beautiful girls will be a future Miss Kona Coffee.

I also had the opportunity to be apart of the Kona Christmas Parade! I had a blast and it was so nice to see so many smiling faces and be embraced by the Kona community.

I also will volunteer at the Umekes christmas Luau for the less fortunate along with Helping out at the Red Kettle donations for The Salvation Army. Please be generous and remember Christmas is a time of giving and being thankful for not only the life we have but the lives we have around us.

Happy holidays!

Journal Entry 7: Show time

The day is here! A journey, a dream, a goal…

Tonight I will take the biggest stage yet in hopes to become Miss Hawaii 2014!

I can’t believe the person I have grown into in these past couple of months, I am unbelievably proud of myself!

This performance is not only for myself, its for my hometown, my Miss Kona Coffee ohana, my Grandma Barbara, and everyone who has helped me along the way.

Thank you all for believing in me and my dreams. I am so blessed to have this opportunity.

And crown or no crown I am a winner, but I will fight to the finish to walk off that stage proud!

— Find out more:
misshawaii.org
www.oc16.tv

Jeanne Kapela during a lighter moment before a public appearance. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Jeanne Kapela during a lighter moment before a public appearance. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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