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UH West O‘ahu student making a difference as Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer


UH West O‘ahu senior Emalia Pomaialoha Dalire was crowned Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer in December. Image courtesy of Mark Salondaka

As Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer 2024, University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu student Emalia Pomaialoha Dalire encourages youth to be the best version of themselves — and shares that if they know who they are and where they come from, they will have the confidence to achieve anything.

The Kāne‘ohe resident, 18, was crowned by the Miss Hawai‘i Volunteer scholarship program in December at Kaimukī High School and is already halfway through a very rewarding reign.

“The Miss Hawai‘i Volunteer organization provided me with a safe space to learn and a platform to share my voice of empowerment and message to youth: Be yourself,” Dalire said.

Miss Hawai’i Volunteer is a statewide, service-oriented scholarship program that seeks to empower intelligent, talented, health-conscious young women through education and opportunities for public service and networking, according to the organization’s website. It is part of the Miss Volunteer America scholarship program.

As Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer, Dalire had to create a S.E.R.V.E. initiative, which reflects the organization’s top principles of scholarship, education, responsibility, volunteerism, and empowerment.

“My S.E.R.V.E. initiative — The K.E.Y. to Life: Keep Empowering Yourself — is my message of empowerment to all youth, especially Indigenous people, to be who they are,” Dalire said. “In the words of my mother, ‘The best person in life to be like is yourself,’ and learning about my Hawaiian culture and being proud of my Indigenous heritage, I gained the confidence and determination necessary to create my future, my story.”

Dalire is currently a youth mentor at a nonprofit organization called Laulani, which seeks to inspire and teach children through cultural preservation to embrace their uniqueness and gain life lessons through Hawai‘i’s culture and traditions.

“I have been building my platform from a young age by instilling vital and empowering life lessons into my students, hoping to set them on a path toward success,” she said. “As Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer, I continue to do that in my classroom and community.”

Perseverance and hard work paid off 

A woman smiling and posing for a portrait.
Dalire’s official photo for Miss Teen Volunteer America. Image courtesy of Keolalaulani Dalire

As a freshman at Damien Memorial School, Dalire also began attending Windward Community College, simultaneously taking high school and early college classes. The dual enrollment enabled her to graduate a year early from high school, then in December of that year, receive from Windward Community College two associate degrees — in Liberal Arts and Hawaiian Studies — along with three certificates of completion.

Now a senior at UH West O‘ahu, Dalire is majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and is on track to graduate with her bachelor’s degree this fall.

“The faculty and nā kumu (at UH West O‘ahu) have been immensely understanding and helpful in my journey as Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer,” Dalire said. “I would like to take this opportunity to give a special shoutout and deepest thank you to one of my professors who helped me shape my platform’s ‘why.’ ”

She continued, “The purpose of creating my initiative was to tell others what I wish I was told: ‘You are enough.’ So thank you to Kumu Edward Keaunui for listening to my story and not seeing the little girl who had to endure, but the woman who came out stronger.”

Keaunui, a Business Administration instructor and Risk Management and Insurance coordinator at UH West O‘ahu (both Dalire and her mother were students of Keaunui’s), helped Dalire as an interview coach.

“Her perseverance, her stick-to-itiveness, and her hard work are what paid off in her securing the crown for this pageant,” Keaunui said.

‘The power to make a difference’ 

According to her biography on the Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer website, Dalire has been dancing hula since the age of 2 in her family’s hālau, Keolalaulani Hālau ‘Olapa O Laka. She is the daughter of Miss Aloha Hula 1999, Kumu Hula Keolalaulani Dalire, and granddaughter of the first and only Miss Hula, Aloha Dalire.

“I was inspired to run for Miss Hawai’i Teen Volunteer because of my haumana (students) at my hālau,” Dalire said. “Working with hundreds of kids in and out of Hawai‘i, my greatest joy comes from witnessing these children grow into distinguished individuals through their culture. Having a front-row seat to their learning and growth showed me that I have the power to make a difference, not just in my classroom but also in my community.”

After winning the Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer 2024 title last December, Dalire competed in the national Miss Teen Volunteer America 2024 pageant in March in Jackson, Tenn.

Two women wearing pageant sashes and posing for a photo.
Dalire (left) with Miss Hawai‘i Volunteer Makenna Kinsler at the Miss Volunteer America competition in March in Tennessee. Image courtesy of Emalia Pomaialoha Dalire

“Although I did not come home with the crown, I came home with new friendships, a desire to continue immersing myself in the community, and fond memories I will forever cherish,” she said. “I hope to one day represent Hawai‘i again in the future.”

For the remainder of her reign, Dalire said she looks forward to more opportunities to represent her organization and continue helping in her community.

“So far, I have worked in elementary schools, been a part of the American Lung Association (ALA) Youth Cabinet, and participated in various events that have allowed me to perpetuate my culture and share my message of empowerment to my community,” she said.

Dalire said she is grateful for the Miss Hawai‘i Volunteer organization and for being Miss Hawai‘i Teen Volunteer, a life-changing experience she will always remember.

“This job has taught me important communication and interviewing skills, how to speak and explain my thoughts clearly, and the importance of knowing your purpose and staying authentically yourself,” she said. “This experience has driven me to continue my mission of making a difference in the world by empowering the next generation to be themselves.”

Dalire added that she encourages others to consider signing up for a scholarship pageant or any leadership role and start a “ripple of change.”

“Just like the saying goes, ‘It just takes one,’ ” Dalire said. “I will continue to strive for change — one day, one child at a time. And always remember that the best person in life to be like is yourself. That is the key to life.”

Two women and two men posing for a group photo. The women are wearing pageant gowns and crowns, and holding flowers.
Dalire (far left) and Kinsler with Miss Hawai‘i Volunteer directors Larry Nakano and Tony Alcosiba. Image courtesy of Mark Salondaka

Images courtesy of Keolalaulani Dalire, Emalia Pomaialoha Dalire and Mark Salondaka