The Miss America 2020 competition aired last month on NBC and students may have seen the familiar face of BYU–Hawaii student and Miss Hawaii Nikki Holbrook. She is a business management junior who was born and raised in California but calls Hawaii her home.
Miss America describes itself as an organization “for empowering young women across the country to be the best they can be through leadership, talent, communication skills, and smarts.” It involves competitions in cities across the United States where women can win scholarships and prize money. The competitions lead up to the national Miss America competition where each state has a representative.
Nikki Holbrook represented Hawaii and placed in the Top 15. For the talent portion, she exhibited her classical piano skills by performing “Concerto in A Minor” by Edvard Grieg. She also presented her acronymic platform and non-profit Service Nurtures All People (SNAP).
According to SNAP, it is “a program which encourages youth to participate in service and provides service opportunities for youth and at-risk individuals to enhance the lives of others and their own.”
Her Miss America experience
According to Nikki Holbrook, her experience was surprisingly sweet. She said, “It has been a dream of mine to compete on the Miss America stage and just going through the experience was truly amazing. I loved getting to meet all of the other contestants. A lot of people assume there is cattiness, but everyone was so genuine and kind. I can now say I have a friend in every state.”
Miss Hawaii also won first runner up for the Women in Business Award at the national competition. “I was awarded a $4,000 scholarship after competing in an on-stage question segment for the award.”
Nikki Holbrook hopes to have a future in business. “I would like to be the CEO of my own marketing firm and know I’ll be able to use my education from BYUH to help me reach that.”
Miss Hawaii asked people to visit her website servicenurturesallpeople.com. On her website, browsers can find upcoming service projects, resources, and read individuals’ personal experiences.
Holbrook is still fulfilling her duties as Miss Hawaii for six more months. She said she will be going back to school to finish her degree soon.
A proud sister
Nikki Holbrook’s sister, Jordan Ke‘ala Holbrook, graduated in English literature from BYU–Hawaii. Jordan explained all the hard work Nikki put in to the competition. “There is a lot that goes into preparing for the competition: studying current events, practicing her talent, finding outfits, practicing interview skills. There’s a lot to prepare for.”
Jordan Holbrook said her sister came up with SNAP when she was a child and today continually advocates for service. Nikki Holbrook goes to schools and has assemblies where she teaches students how they can help others and find opportunities to serve.
Two years ago, the two sisters went to Korea, where Jordan Holbrook served her mission. While there, Nikki did a SNAP presentation on Arirang Radio. Jordan Holbrook shared, “I translated for her. It was great to participate with her and also show my love for the people of Korea.”
Jordan Holbrook said her sister accomplished her dreams and she is overjoyed for her. “Not many people can say they actually accomplished their dreams in their lifetime.” Her dream also brought material benefits and skills for the future.
“She won scholarship money so she can pay for all of her schooling and for graduate school. She’s learned so many amazing interview and public speaking skills.” She shared how Nikki Holbrook practiced her public speaking skills outside of Miss America when she competed in Miss California and at a speech for TEDxWoodbridgeHigh.
Jordan Holbrook said how proud she is of her sister. “She’s always stuck to her morals and what she believes in. As a disciple of Christ, she’s been true to herself and to her faith.”
An example for BYUH students
Kepueli Mahina Huhane, a political science senior from Tonga, said he saw Nikki Holbrook had made it to the Top 15 from a Facebook post. Huhane explained she could clear up misconceptions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through her work as Miss Hawaii and being a finalist in Miss America.
“When we say we are Latter-day Saints or we go to BYU, we are a walking billboard for the Church and the school. What is on that billboard depends on how you act and conduct yourself. For someone like her who gets so far in a competition like this shows that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do [extraordinary things] too and we can still represent our faith.”
Carolina Beristain, a sophomore from Mexico studying business, met Nikki Holbrook at a dinner with a professor. They talked briefly, and she liked her personality. Beristain said she had heard about Nikki Holbrook getting into the Top 15. “I think that she’s a great example because I don’t know how she was able to manage school and the competition. I feel she’s a very intelligent woman and strong.
“She’s a good example because people will hear about the university and see she is a good person.”
According to Malissa Schaumkel Fifita, a political science senior from Tonga, Nikki Holbrook showed her humility when she first met her working at the Polynesian Culture Center and when they danced together for Halloween. “My first impression of Nikki was very quiet, but then I found her so beautiful and so cute and very humble. I never heard her talk ill about anyone. We became good friends.”