HALEIWA, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - With me today is Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier, in a little bit we'll be putting her on the spot but first let's get to know her a little better.
She's been a lifeguard, a waitress and a coffee barista, but the jobs that have made her rich don't pay anything at all. "There's actually an award from the President. The Presidential lifetime service award that I received for over 4000 hours of service," she explains.
You may recognize her as our current Miss Hawaii, but most simply know her as a volunteer. In her community on the north shore she created a mentoring program for young girls called "Dream Academy" and even started her own non-profit. "It's called Ready for the Real World but that's basically what ready for the real world is, it's really about promoting community service it's promoting volunteerism in our young people. It's been fun to see it grow and see the accomplishments of these young people," she said.
The HPU graduate has a degree in International Relations. Quite fitting, a lot of her time has been spent overseas. "I have this globe that I painted when I was nine years old and it's a porcelain globe and I have my footprints all over it, so I had big dreams all the time. I always wanted to travel and always wanted to do these crazy things all over the world," she said.
Jalee is 22 years old and has done volunteer work in 21 countries. "In Thailand I actually traveled with Up with People. We did work with Habitat for Humanity and I worked with children of the nations in Malawi and teen missions in Uganda and Cameroon. In Uganda we built an orphan unit that takes care of 500 orphans.It's extremely inspiring to be around people who maybe don't have all the material things but they have a wealth of non material things," she said.
She also gets a lot of inspiration from her family. Most notably, her older sister Janee who was born with cerebral palsy. "She's been so much more than just a big sister to me she's been someone that has helped challenge me throughout my life to help realize you know there's nothing you can't do," she said.
Janee has overcome all odds. She walks when doctors said she never would, she graduated from high school early and went away for college. Their mother says "It's not that we have one Miss Hawaii and one that's handicapped it's not like that at all. They both have accomplished great things." Jalee explains, "My sister, yeah she is my hero."
Jalee and Janee even travel and volunteer together. India and Guatemala are two of their favorite destinations. "We had a pastor who started a church in Guatemala and he has an orphanage over there. It's good because we get to do it together we get to experience it together," said Janee.
I asked Janee what impression she thinks Jalee leaves on people. What her message is ... "She tells people that they can do anything that they put their mind to," she said. Jalee's mom explains, "When she puts her mind to something she does it, she believes she can do it."
Miss Hawaii Send-off Party/Fundraiser
Wednesday, December 29
Ka in Ward Center
5:30pm - 8:30pm
Click HERE for a link to Ready For The Real World.
Click HERE for a link to the Miss Hawaii Organization website and to buy tickets to Jalee's send-off party and fundraiser.