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Miss Hawaii USA Kiana Yamat

Kiana Yamat wants to use her platform as the new Miss Hawaii USA 2022 to inspire young women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry. The 2016 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate’s interest in STEM was sparked through her experiences in the College of Engineering.

UH Mānoa provided me with the education I needed to become successful as a civil engineer working in the construction industry as well as develop leadership and teamwork skills through extracurriculars I’ve used in both my career and personal endeavors,” Yamat said. “I still have great relationships with some of my professors and my biggest supporters today are the classmates who turned into friends while in school.”

Yamat earned a UH Mānoa Chancellor’s scholarship (now called Provost Achievement Scholarship) and served as the American Society of Civil Engineers UH Mānoa student chapter president. She is now a civil and construction engineer with Hansel Phelps, and has worked on several major projects, including the new mauka concourse at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Yamat wants to become a female role model in the STEM industry because she is often one of a few females working on projects in the engineering field.

“During my reign as Miss Hawaii USA, my goal is to do outreach within the community, specifically targeting young women who find themselves in the same position I did when I was younger: interested in STEM but lacking a female role model or mentor in the field,” Yamat said. “There needs to be more of us, and I hope to be the role model I never had.”

Advancing to the Miss USA pageant

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The 2022 Miss Hawaii USA pageant was the Lahainaluna High School graduate’s first pageant competition. Yamat beat out 21 other contestants to advance to the Miss USA pageant taking place later this year.

“This whole experience has been surreal, and I can’t express enough how grateful and thankful I am to have been chosen for this title,” Yamat said. “It is both a privilege and an honor to represent our beautiful Aloha State and I hope to make the people of Hawaiʻi proud at Miss USA later this year.”

She added, “The decision to run for Miss Hawaii USA has been one of the best I’ve ever made as it continues to open doors to new opportunities and experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I encourage anyone interested in bettering and learning about themselves to run next year! It’s the experience of a lifetime.”

Yamat’s experiences at UH Mānoa are examples of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

—By Marc Arakaki

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