Fort Shafter teen prepares for national spotlight
June 21, 2013
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (June 21, 2013) -- Palm Circle, here, has been host to numerous world leaders over the years -- FDR, Secretary of War (and eventually president) William Howard Taft, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Navy Adm. Chester Nimitz.
Even celebrities that include Irving Berlin and the cast of "Hawaii 5-0" have graced these historic grounds.
But not many people know that, currently, royalty also calls the "Pineapple Pentagon" home.
Miss Hawaii Teen USA Samantha Neyland lives here, with her parents, mother Joanne and father Col. Alan Neyland, deputy chief of staff, U.S. Army-Pacific.
The Neylands mark their two-year anniversary with the Army Hawaii ohana in July, and it is this very fact that Joanne said makes her daughter's position as Miss Hawaii Teen USA so unique.
"Usually military kids don't get to do these types of things (pageants), because most times they move before their year as the title holder is up," said Joanne. "But for her, this has worked out perfectly."
Samantha agreed, noting that she had always been interested in the world of modeling and beauty competitions, but, as the daughter of a Soldier, she had been hesitant to enter because of her family's on-the-move lifestyle.
"Because my dad is in the military, we were overseas most of the time. We were in Spain and then Japan," said the 17-year-old from a suite in Las Vegas, where she and Mom were staying, last week, to cheer on "big sister," Miss Hawaii USA Brianna Acosta, in the Miss USA competition.
"But being a military kid has made me who I am, and that's why I won (the Miss Hawaii Teen USA competition)," Samantha added. "I'm mature for my age, and I can relate to other people.
"My parents taught me how to push through the hard times and be adaptable to different situations," she continued. "They are my biggest role models because of everything they do."
The reigning teen beauty queen graduated from Moanalua High School last month and plans to stay close to home by attending the University of Hawaii-Manoa, where she'll major in communications.
But before that next major life adventure, Samantha has another mission to complete: Competing in the Miss Teen USA 2013 pageant, set to take place Aug. 10, at the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
"I represent all the teenagers of Hawaii," Samantha said, "and if I inspire anyone, I want them to know they can do anything. It's how hard you work for something."
She certainly walks the talk. As part of her duties as Miss Hawaii Teen USA, Samantha attends numerous events throughout the year, including the recent R-Word rally on Schofield Barracks and the Armed Services YMCA of Honolulu's National Military Appreciation Month ceremony at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki.
"My favorite parts about being Miss Hawaii Teen USA are the places I get to go and the people I get to meet," Samantha enthused. "It's different to be involved firsthand, and I enjoy all the military events, because I'm a military child, and it's great to see how the military always gives back."
Samantha Neyland will be hosting a send-off party, June 29, 5-8 p.m., at Pearl UltraLounge, Ho'okipa Terrace, Ala Moana Center, in preparation for her appearance in the Miss Teen USA 2013 competition, Aug. 10, at the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The event includes dinner and performances by Brown Bags to Stardom's 2013 talent contest winners.
"It's more about all of the people who have helped me. I want to make it about the community," Samantha said.
Tickets cost $25 and are available at Cosmic Beauty, 4850 Kapolei Parkway #501, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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