Beauty, brains, believing in self

As the current Miss Garden Isle titleholder, Topaz Fernandez has learned a lot about herself over the past year.

As Miss Garden Isle, the 21-year-old Kauai High School alumna had a chance to visit Children’s Miracle Network recipients at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu and overcome one of her biggest fears: public speaking.

“I’d have to say that it was definitely life-changing,” Fernandez said about being crowned Miss Garden Isle last January and competing for the Miss Hawaii title in Honolulu. “I’ve definitely matured over the past year and learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. As Miss Garden Isle, you are a voice in the community and you have to work well with others around you. You are also a role model for pretty much everyone.”

The tradition of crowning a new Miss Garden Isle and Miss Paradise Kauai will continue at this year’s annual scholarship program, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.

Pageant organizer Rose Dahle said eight contestants will be vying for the two titles, including Sarah Alonzo, Guinevere Davenport, Shelbi Shimazu, Ruby Hawthorne, Nicholette Levinthol, Hualalai Grance, Kizna Pascua, and Sarah Manuel.

The two contestants who are crowned Miss Paradise Kauai and Miss Garden Isle will each receive $10,000 scholarship grants to Argosy University. The first runner-up will receive $8,000, the second runner-up will receive $6,000, and the remaining four contestants will receive $2,000.

“The thing that I get the most pride in is when they build self-confidence, become strong, young women and pursue their education,” Dahle said. “I like getting feedback that tells me that the contestants are using their scholarship money to further their education. About a couple of weeks ago, right before Christmas, I ran into a parent of a former titleholder who went on to Miss Hawaii … and was told that she got her master’s degree using every penny of her scholarship money.”

Fernandez hopes every contestant will learn more about themselves throughout the pageant process.

“Gaining experience from this pageant kind of allows you to learn more about yourself and teaches you more about what your goals are in life and what you hope to overcome,” Fernandez said. “It made me ask myself, ‘OK, who is the real Topaz?’ It kind of reaffirms who you are and makes you feel proud of who you are. It kind of gives you the inspiration to find yourself a little bit more.”

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

Info: Dahle, (808) 482-0142

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