LIHU‘E — The first thing that Miss Teen USA Ki‘ilani Arruda wanted to do after Monday was proclaimed Ki‘ilani Arruda Day by Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami was to have some cake.
“It’s official,” Arruda said. “This is my day, so it’s alright to eat cake.”
Kawakami proclaimed Monday Ki‘ilani Arruda Day as part of the island’s way of recognizing the achievement of the Island School valedictorian being crowned Miss Teen USA on Nov. 7, following the postponement of the original pageant because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The key is persistence,” said Rep. James Tokioka. “After placing as the second runner-up in the 2019 Miss Hawai‘i Teen USA Pageant, she relied on her previous pageant experience, competing in the 2020 Miss Hawai‘i Teen USA Pageant and winning each phase of the competition.”
Arruda went on to Memphis, Tennessee where she earned the 2020 Miss Teen USA crown, marking the first time the award was won by a Kaua‘i resident, and the return of the honor to Hawai‘i since 1985.
Fans and supporters were provided an opportunity to meet Arruda at a socially-distanced event at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot by driving by the stage. Arruda came off the raised platform to approach the cars and greet the people.
The event kicks off Arruda’s official homecoming tour across Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, culminating with the 2021 Miss Hawai‘i USA and Miss Hawai‘i Teen USA pageants scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10. Arruda’s successor to the state title will be crowned at these pageants.
Arruda is a freshman at the University of Puget Sound in Washington state. She is a member of the UPS Loggers swim team and is majoring in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in Spanish. Eventually, Arruda wants to attend the Stanford Medical School to work toward a degree in becoming a dermatologist.