Fil-Am Ki’ilani Arruda from Hawaii wins Miss Teen USA

Photo from Instagram/@missteenusa

Filipina American Ki’ilani Arruda has been crowned as Miss Teen USA 2020.

Arruda, 18, bested 50 other candidates for the crown on Saturday, November 7 in Memphis, Tennessee.

During the Q&A portion of the pageant, Arruda was asked, “What has experiencing a global pandemic taught you about life?”

Photo from Instagram/@killani.kauai

The Fil-Am teen, in response, said: “Well, of course this global pandemic is very unprecedented and has taught me a lot about life. For me, it has especially taught me how to appreciate my family. 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 into college, and I won’t have those precious moments to share with them. So really, it’s just to cherish those moments. And it’s so honorable I get to represent my home of Hawai’i, so just being at home is so wonderful.”

She is the second entrant from Hawaii to have been crowned Miss Teen USA, following Kelly Hu who was crowned in 1985.

In her Miss Teen USA biography, Arruda said that after obtaining a degree in molecular and cellular biology in college, she plans to go to medical school to become a dermatologist.

She also advocates for autism awareness after her brother was diagnosed with autism, and hopes everyone can build a world that is accepting and inclusive for all people.

In a post-pageant interview, Arruda revealed that Filipina beauty queen Catriona Gray is her favorite Miss Universe winner.

“I’m a little biased towards Catriona because I am half-Filipino myself. Her reign was so amazing, and I’ve always looked up to her as a role model,” she said.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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