HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A year ago, Allison Chu was crowned Miss Hawaii 2016.
"I remember being in this exact spot," she said, as she took a break from rehearsals Thursday for this year's Miss Hawaii pageant.
On Saturday, Chu will end her reign as Miss Hawaii at the historic Hawaii Theatre, after she passes along the title to another young woman.
Fifteen contestants will compete in this year's pageant, which includes an interview and question-and-answer segment and evening attire, swimwear and talent stages. The prize is a full-ride academic scholarship and the title of Miss Hawaii 2017.
In preparation for the show, contestants have been rehearsing at 24-7 Dance Studio in Kaneohe.
Chu said she remembers long days at the studio as she practiced before last year's pageant.
"It's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun," she said.
Her biggest advice to this year's contestants — be yourself.
"Every Miss Hawaii is different," Chu explained. "Be who you are and see what you can bring to the table and offer something new to the organization."
Chu said she's tried to do that during her reign.
After struggling with bad skin growing up, she started a "Safe in the Sun" platform and now hopes to become a dermatologist.
"I hope one day to open up my own clinic," she said. "I want to be able to help others, especially teenagers."
Over the last year, Chu also gave speeches, attended events, traveled the world, and all while inspiring and empowering young women. For her, Miss Hawaii is more than just a title, it's a lifestyle that has allowed her to speak out about issues she is passionate about.
For pageant producer Raymond Abregano, the experience is just as memorable.
"For me, the satisfaction comes in seeing these young ladies grow and develop their skill," he said. "The reward is when they come back after becoming successful entrepreneurs, entertainers and doctors."
Oahu, the Big Island and Maui are all represented in the pageant this year. The winner will have the opportunity to compete at Miss America in September.
For more information on the event and tickets, click here.