Q&A with the new Miss Hawai‘i

Courtney Choy
Courtney Choy, BBA ‘18, earned her undergraduate degree in Marketing, Management and International Business from Shidler College. Photo credit: Jon Fujiwara

We recently got to know Courtney Choy, BBA ’18, a little better after her busy weekend of being crowned Miss Hawaii 2021 and graduating with her J.D. degree from UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Here’s what she had to say about competing in pageants, her time as a Marketing, Management and International Business and Freshman Direct Admit Program student at the Shidler College of Business, her favorite sweet treat and her future plans.

Shidler: What's it like be named Miss Hawai‘i 2021?

Courtney: “Miss Hawai'i was not something I always pictured for myself. While I was growing up, I struggled greatly with self-confidence and internally trying to figure out who I was. However, I was entrusted by the people I have met in my life – through education, employment, internships and volunteer opportunities - to represent Hawai'i and what it means to come from this place. I am so proud to be born and raised here, to have been solely educated here, and to have met so many people that believed in me even when I didn’t always believe in myself. Miss Hawai'i was the opportunity of a lifetime to serve my state and give back to the place that molded me into the individual I am today.”

Shidler: What are your career plans now that you've graduated from law school?

Courtney: “Prior to competing in Miss Hawai'i, I was planning to take the Hawai'i bar exam in July 2021. I want to fully dedicate myself to this role (Miss Hawai'i) and the preparation for Miss America, so I will defer taking the bar exam to next year. Following that, I will continue my pursuit to be an attorney that advocates for the people of Hawai'i.”

Courtney Choy

Courtney Choy was crowned Miss Hawai‘i 2021 on May 15. Photo credit: Jon Fujiwara

Shidler: What were your favorite/most significant memories/experiences at Shidler and  in the DAP program?

Courtney: “My most favorite memories came from meeting professionals at the annual Business Night and from being in class with world-renowned faculty and professors. Shidler exposed me to individuals like Professor Kathryn Anbe, Professor Mitsuru Misawa and Professor Constancio Paranal, who believed in me and taught me the value of mentorship. I volunteered to be a DAP Mentor to the incoming DAP cohort after my year and it helped me realize that small things make a big difference in the lives of students. Irene Galinato (now Burns) was my advisor at the time and has followed my journey until now. I am forever grateful for her support as well. I was recently asked by the International Business Organization to become a professional contact, so it makes me happy that I can begin giving back to this community that has provided me opportunities to grow personally and professionally!”

Shidler: Are there any lessons from Shidler you used at law school and/or in the Miss Chinatown/Miss Hawai‘i pageants?

Courtney: “Shidler taught me what it means to be a team player and to exude confidence in a diverse array of situations such as presenting in class or interviewing with employers. I used the professional skills learned at Shidler in law school when I presented oral arguments for classes, participated in interviews and worked with individuals from multifaceted backgrounds. Similarly, Shidler prepared me for the on-stage phases of competition at Miss Chinatown and Miss Hawai'i. Those kinds of skills are invaluable and will follow me to the 100th anniversary of Miss America!”

Shidler: What's your favorite dessert?

Courtney: “The Sweet Lady of Waiahole dessert from Waiahole Poi Factory. It's warm kulolo and haupia ice cream. I would drive down there in a heartbeat to have that dessert every day!”

Shidler: Is there anything else you'd like to share/anyone you'd like to thank?

Courtney: “Be proud of who you are and the person you are becoming. Through every experience, both positive and negative, never fail to see the lessons they bring and the role they have in your life. Be kind, serve the community and believe in yourself. I enrolled in a girls’ empowerment course when I was 14 years old and I strive every day to be a person that 14-year-old Courtney can be proud of. I want to thank my parents for instilling in me to always work hard and never give up.”