University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa junior and communications major Lacie Choy was crowned Miss Hawaii USA 2019 and will go on to represent Hawaiʻi at the 2019 Miss USA competition.
But almost a year ago, pageants were the furthest thing from Choy’s mind.
“I was never interested in pageants until about 10 months ago,” Choy said. The idea to run for Miss Hawaii USA came from her aunt, who told Choy that it would create new opportunities and friendships.
“I thought, ‘Why not!’ I have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Choy said. She went on to say that she was looking to try something new as most of her life consisted of playing sports with her three brothers.
Despite her freshness to the pageant scene, Choy reported feeling excited and proud to represent her state and her people at Miss USA.
“Before Miss Hawaii USA, a lot of people would tell me that I was not going to win,” Choy said. Many of these claims argued that she was too young and inexperienced at the time.
Going into the competition, Choy said that being from Hawaiʻi put her in an advantageous position.
“I feel that my aloha spirit, values and culture will set me apart from the other girls,” Choy said.
The last time a woman from Hawaiʻi took the title of Miss USA was Brook Lee in 1997 who later went on to take the title of Miss Universe, a fact that does not sway Choy’s confidence in the slightest.
“Of course I want to achieve everything she (Lee) did,” she said. “I am just going to go up there, be true to who I am and what I stand for, and hopefully that is what the judges are looking for in a Miss USA.”
Outside of pageantry, Choy’s passions lie in sustainability and raising awareness for green initiatives.
“Being born and raised in Hawaiʻi, I have always had a great appreciation for the outdoors,” Choy said “My family business is transitioning to renewable energy markets to achieve Hawaiʻi’s clean energy goal by 2045.”
Choy’s goal is to create a Native Hawaiian nonprofit dedicated to spreading awareness and educating others on green initiatives. Currently, she has been working with state senators to turn this goal into reality by advocating Hawaiʻi’s sustainability hub and promoting the 17 United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.
Choy also works to promote sustainability with younger audiences, sharing advice and “fun tips and tricks” at elementary schools to help children live a plastic-free lifestyle.
When asked what her future plans are should she win Miss USA, Choy joked, “The first thing I will do as Miss USA is to eat as much Thai food as I possibly can, then I will travel to New York with a full belly to be a voice for causes that feel like they don't have one.”
Following that, Choy stated she is looking forward to preparing for Miss Universe should she be crowned Miss USA.
For prospective members of the pageant scene, Choy had these words of advice to share: “Pageants aren't just about a pretty dress and 5.5 inch heels, it’s about using your heart and your mind to be the best representative for yourself and your state. Don't be afraid to fail. Just be confident in who you are and it will take you a long way.”
The Miss USA competition is set to take place this year on May 2 in Reno Tahoe, Nevada.