Island Queen: Miss Hawaii—Nicole Ka‘ili Fox

Nicole Fox ’06 becomes Miss Hawaii.

The finale of the three-night competition came on July 11, 2008. Nicole Fox ’06 performed a hula to “Malie’s Song (Hawaiian Lullaby)” and spoke on behalf of Promoting Educational Achievement in Kids (PEAK). And, at the Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, out of 19 contestants, she was the one chosen to wear the crown of Miss Hawaii.

At first she was at a loss for words. “And then I thought: Why did I not pay more attention to where I was supposed to go?” she said. The answer, of course: on the road as Miss Hawaii—and to the 83rd Miss America Pageant.

While Fox was born and raised in Santa Clara, her parents made Hawaiian culture a part of her upbringing. Her father spoke Hawaiian to her and her siblings “when he didn’t want others to know what we were talking about” and at the age of 5, Fox began taking hula lessons.

While attending SCU, Fox showcased her love of Island dance, performing in shows hosted by the Multicultural Center. She taught English to immigrants and helped direct SCU’s Youth Empowerment Program, which links the Undergraduate Admissions Office with appropriate student-led organizations to encourage high school students of color to pursue a university education. She also studied abroad in New Zealand and traveled for two months throughout India, Thailand, and Japan. In the past three years, she’s traveled to 15 countries, volunteered in the Middle East and parts of Asia, and taught at an orphanage for HIV-positive children in Ethiopia.

She was named Miss Santa Clara 2006, Miss San Jose 2007, and, after moving to Honolulu, Miss Island Oahu 2008. She’s also competed twice in the Miss California Pageant. As Miss Hawaii, Fox continues to advocate for PEAK and has worked with Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit community organization.

Center stage

After months of priming for Miss America, complete with filming TLC’s “Countdown to the Crown”—a reality show that housed the 52 contestants on the Queen Mary ocean liner and followed them in pageant preparation challenges—came the national pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Fox wowed the crowd during the talent segment by performing a spectacular o‘te‘a, a traditional Tahitian dance, and moved into the top-10.

Miss Indiana Katie Stam ultimately took home the crown. But Fox was thrilled to make it to the semifinal round to be named a Quality of Life Award finalist for excellence in volunteerism. And with her experiences from the pageants, coupled with her degrees in business management and cultural anthropology from SCU, she hopes to obtain a masters degree in education administration and become a teacher.

“Having an opportunity to give back helps you understand and re-prioritize what you value,” she says.


Age: 24

Favorite accessory: Her rhinestone leopard print watch

Web time: A “news and politics junkie,” she was also a blogger for the San Jose Sharks.

Did you know…? The dressing are for the Miss America contestants is located outside the venue. When it began to rain at this year’s pageant, “We had a couple of volunteers holding tarps above our heads so we could walk through.”

Most embarrassing moment: Her crowning as Miss Hawaii. “I went through probably about 40 different facial expressions and not a single one of them was attractive. To top it all off, my crown actually fell off my head.”

post-image Crowd pleaser: Nicole Fox performs a traditional Tahitian dance in the 2009 Miss America Pageant. / Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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