LIHUE — When Isabel Gampon answered an open call from the Susan Page Modeling Agency, she never dreamed she would be a queen of a pageant.
The eighth-grade student at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School was announced as the Miss Junior Teen Hawaii 2015 Sunday night at the Mamiya Theater on the campus of Chaminade University in Honolulu.
“They talked to me about it when I answered the call,” Isabel said. “They mentioned something about a pageant, and I thought it might be a fun thing to try.”
En route to her crown, her first ever, the CKMS student garnered top honors in Miss Spirit of Aloha for her community service project of a food drive for the Kauai Independent Food Bank, where she was concerned over children going hungry during Thanksgiving.
The 12-year-old also took honors in Best Interview, Most Elegant, and the Scholars Award for both the Miss Junior Teen and the Miss Teen pageants.
“She was so amazing,” said Rebecca Schumacher, president of Susan Page Modeling. “I was sitting in my seat wondering, ‘Where did this girl come from, and why haven’t we found her earlier?’”
One of the pageant highlights was winning the Best Talent award for a Flamenco dance Isabel choreographed and performed.
Isabel said the pageant helped her grow in confidence because of having to choreograph her dance number.
“It pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Isabel said. “But after accomplishing that, I grew in confidence of what I can do and actively expanding on what I am able to do.”
Isabel’s mother Ray Gampon said the cache of awards covered almost all of the presentations made Sunday.
“She only missed the congeniality award,” Campon said.
The Junior Teen Hawaii field saw five young ladies, including Isabel, take the stage, and its sister pageant, the Miss Teen Hawaii, saw six young women, including a participant from Maui, compete for honors before a panel of judges which included guest judge Kini of “Project Runway” fame.
Schmacher said Isabel paid a minimal entry fee because she was from the outer islands and had the added cost of airfare to get to the pageant.
“The pageant directors waived the $395 entry fee and 10-ticket requirement for neighbor island participants,” Ray said. “Isabel did have to pay $200 for her bio page which could have been offset by including local business ads on her page. The only other requirement was that each contestant needed to purchase, or have a business sponsor a $300 full page advertisement. Pageant costs, including gown, dresses, outfits, shoes, hair and makeup, not to mention airfare, can add up quickly and we are very grateful for the support we received from local businesses, family and friends.”
Isabel said participating in the pageant for the first time was worth it.
“The experience was really fun,” Isabel said. “But I had a lot of support, including from my pageant coach, Kayla Cadavona-Dela Cruz, a former Miss Kauai Filipina, and my makeup artist Jackie Taylor who graduated from Waimea High School. I also have a lot of people in the community who helped me to this.”