Miss America Angela Perez Baraquio

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Angela Perez Baraquio, the 24-year-old Physical Education teacher who Miss America 2001, is a daughter of Philippine-born parents living in Hawaii. Her father, Claudio Fernandez Baraquio was born in Pangasinan, while her mother, Rigolette Perez grew up in Manila.

Angela has three brothers and six sisters, the three eldest of whom were also born in the Philippines. The beauty queen, on the other hand, was born in Hawaii and has yet to make her first visit to the country.

The surname Baraquio does not sound very strange among the people of Hawaii because one of Angela's sisters, Bernadette, 27, is a television reporter at the island's popular Channel 2 News.

The Baraquio family has found success in the American state which is inhabited mostly by Asians and whose governor, Benjamin Cayetano, grew up in the Philippines. Angela's parents are busy with the family business, a pest control company in the capital city of Honolulu called "Able Termite Control". Angela's brothers and sisters are mostly professionals and college students.

But the sweetest success came to the Baraquio family last October 14 when Angela was crowned Miss America 2001 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, replacing former title holder, Heather Renee French of Kentucky. Angela is the first Asian American to win the Miss America title, with her Filipino descent, and the second Miss Hawaii to win Miss America, after Carolyn Sapp won it in 1992.

Prior to winning the Miss America crown, Angela was chosen as the representative of the town of Leeward in the Miss Hawaii Scholarship Pageant, which was held last June 9. With a combination of beauty, intelligence, and talent, Angela won the Miss Hawaii pageant, thereby earning the slot for the prestigious national pageant. She showed her talent when she performed the exotic hula dance in front of the judges.

But Angela has nearly missed the pageant. Discouraged by her previous defeat in the same pageant before, she was ready to give up hopes of joining it again. In 1996, Angela entered the Miss Hawaii pageant in the hope of obtaining scholarship money for college. She was not as lucky then.

She had no plan to compete at the June 9 Miss Hawaii pageant until two eighth-grade girls on the volleyball team she coached at Holy Family Catholic Academy told her they were afraid to try out for the basketball team. Angela told them to overcome their fear by trying. Later, it occurred to her that she could be a good role model for her students by taking her own advice and overcoming her fear of joining the pageant again.

Angela was born on June 1, 1976. She graduated from the Moanalua High School in 1994 and earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in 1999. She was a consistent honor student in high school and a standout athlete in girls' basketball. She was in the dean's list in college and was a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society.

The Honolulu advertiser describes Angela as a woman of varied interests and talents. She was an associate editor at the high school paper and played keyboard in a rock band. She was featured as an on-camera talent on KITV 4's Emmy nominated "The Road to the Show," and was a television host/interviewer for HIT-TV. In 1996, her work won the "Best Video" in the Hawaii Music Awards. And she achieved these things while working as a sales agent for the family-run business.

She was also involved in numerous volunteer and charitable endeavors. She helps direct a Tongan youth choir that she helped co-found. She has served as assistant coach for the girls' basketball and cross-country teams at Moanalua High and Holy Family.

Currently, Angela is an exemplary teacher at the Holy Family Catholic Academy where she has been a forerunner in implementing Character Education for her students. Her goal is not only to teach academic essentials, but to also provide students invaluable life skills such as teamwork, mutual respect and appreciation of others.

"She is a shining example of a dynamic young person working energetically to meet her own personal and professional goals while making a lasting difference in our community. Her achievements, personality and demeanor also make her a stellar role model for our island youth and an outstanding representative for the State of Hawaii," the Honolulu Advertiser describes Angela.

Angela, who won a cash prize of $50,000, pledged to devote her yearlong reign as this year's Miss USA to helping "kids become well-rounded individuals and contributing citizens" through character education. She plans to earn a Master's Degree in Educational Foundations and make a positive impact on the lives of the citizens of all nations.

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