A Fiji teenager is set to become the best known Fijian in the United States after champion golfer Vijay Singh.
Hosanna Kabakoro was crowned Miss Congeniality on Saturday (NZ time) as the Miss Teen USA contest came to an end amid celebrations in the Bahamas.
The 18-year-old from Naweni Village in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, has come a long way since first appealing publicly to the people of Fiji to vote online for her as a contestant in the Miss Teen Idaho contest late last year.
At the conclusion of the contest she was awarded the Miss Photogenic title and later crowned Miss Teen Idaho 2009.
Miss Maryland Kamie Crawford, 17 won the Miss Teen USA pageant while Miss Illinois Lexi Atkins was crowned runner-up in the contest.
Proud mum Summer Kabakoro said: "I am so proud of both our children. Their dad has taught them so well and he deserves most of the credit for who they are becoming. I am glad the pageant is over and Hosanna can now move on to more important ventures."
Hosanna is the niece of former Suva and Fiji soccer star Tony Kabakoro.
For a time last month, Hosanna was leading the online voting polls despite the tough competitions from other contestants.
Hosanna has since etched her name in Fiji's history when she became the first Fijian to receive a US Congressional Bronze Award in 2008.
She was also one of two youths named as Idaho's Top Youth volunteer early last year by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
The support from the people of Fiji made her experience at the pageant extraordinary, said Hosanna.
"I feel that my auntie Suzanne Misaele said it best when she said looks fade but character lasts a lifetime," she said from the US yesterday.
"I was so humbled that the other girls selected me for this honour and while I am far from perfect, I do hope that overall I can live up to the title. I am so happy to represent the state of Idaho and the amazing people of Fiji.
"I have been working hard and studying with the goal of landing a job in the news department with Fiji Television.
"I hope this recognition will open a door for me there as well."
Hosanna already has a busy schedule planned for the coming months. This includes spending a semester at Youths With A Mission Idaho and going on an outreach either in India or Fiji.
"I will be speaking at the HYPE Conference in Salt Lake City in November and then hopefully fly to Fiji for the Children's Day Awards," she said.
"I plan to continue working in broadcast journalism and after that, who knows."
- Fiji Times