Kehaulani Christian hugged her mother, Nani Lee Christian, on Friday outside the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village after she was crowned Miss Hawaii.

Pageant opportunity
came dancing for
new Miss Hawaii

A late call started Kehaulani Christian
on the path to her win

By Diana Leone

If Disney had called earlier, Kehaulani Christian wouldn't be Miss Hawaii 2002 today.

The 22-year-old Roosevelt High School graduate said yesterday that she enjoyed dancing for Tokyo Disneyland in 2000-2001 so much that she was hoping to return for another year.

While waiting to hear back from Disney last fall, a friend convinced her to compete in the Miss VIP pageant.

Disney eventually called, but only after she had won the VIP pageant. By then, Christian had decided to go ahead and compete in the Miss Hawaii pageant because of the opportunity to try for Miss America in September.

Christian told the Star-Bulletin yesterday that her biggest hope if crowned Miss America would be to promote children's literacy at the national level.

She was galvanized to choose literacy as her mission four years ago, after fourth-graders wrote her a thank-you note for speaking at their school.

"They couldn't write a sentence you could understand," she said.

If as Miss VIP she was able to get a literacy program started locally in schools, Christian reasons, with a national title she could really make a difference.

Christian is a student at both Kapiolani Community College and Hawaii Pacific University, pursuing bachelor's degrees in public relations and entrepreneurial studies.

Her career goals are to work in patient relations at Queen's Medical Center and to own an authentic Japanese-style sushi restaurant. Meanwhile, Christian stays busy with four part-time jobs: teaching modeling at Nix Performing Arts Center, dancing in the Pleasant Hawaiian Hula Show and for Les'Lie Productions, and consulting for Merle Norman Cosmetics.

Christian credits her mother, Nani, a Zippy's store manager, with being her biggest support in this pageant and others in which she competed in her teens.

"My mom does everything for me," Christian said. "She hand-sewed my whole Tahitian dance costume except for the necklace."

Of the many dance styles she has studied, Christian said she chose Tahitian dance for her talent competition "because it's interesting to watch."

Christian won't have to wear her crown all the time during her reign as Miss Hawaii; she'll be allowed to wear a crown-shaped pin sometimes to signify her status. But yesterday, as she went between media interviews, she had it on most of the day.

"I don't know how to put it on yet," she explained, opening the wooden box for the crown that she was carrying with her.

Inside is foam padding to protect the crown when she takes it off and the keys to the new Mercedes-Benz from TheoDavies Euromotors, one of the first perks of being Miss Hawaii.

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