On the Scene with Mahealani Sims-Tulba, 2020 Miss Aloha Latina
Mahealani Sims-Tulba was crowned 2020 Miss Aloha Latina in the Dec. 1 Miss Latina Hawaii Scholarship Competition. She will compete in the Miss Hawaii pageant next spring.
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Born in California, raised in Hawaii, Mahealani Sims-Tulba’s life took a turn for the worse when she became the target of bullying by people she’d thought were her friends. Sims-Tulba was a 10-year-old fifth grader when the girl that she thought was her best friend participated in a beauty pageant. She thought it looked like fun and asked how she could enter pageants. Her friend — and other girls she’d thought were friends — turned on her. The bullies told her she was too ugly, too fat, too stupid, to even think about participating.
At 11 she wrote a children’s book about her experience as a survivor of bullying. At 13, with support from her parents, she created a foundation — BRAVE. Hawaii (Be Respectful and Value Everyone). Six years later, she estimates that she’s connected with more than 170,000 kids and taken her message to almost every school in the state. She graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy in 2018 and is majoring in psychology at University of Hawaii-West Oahu, where she plans to learn more about the mental health aspect of bullying on victims and perpetrators alike.
As she was growing up, Sims-Tulba, now 19, also learned she had everything she needed to enter and win pageants. Most recently she was crowned 2020 Miss Aloha Latina in the Dec. 1 Miss Latina Hawaii Scholarship Competition — and also won the popularity, photogenic, evening gown and social impact awards. She will compete in the Miss Hawaii pageant next spring.
A question a lot of people still ask these days is what do you get out of participating in beauty pageants?
Being in the Miss Latina Hawaii Scholarship program has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, and also to learn more about my Latina background and how important it is to be connected with your roots and where you come from. My Latina background is Spanish, but I’m also Filipino and Chinese, and some form of European; we think it’s Norwegian or German, but we’re not sure. I’m having a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to being in Miss Hawaii next year.
Whatever happens next year, what are your plans for 2021?
To still pursue my degree. No matter what, if I win Miss Hawaii or if I don’t, I’m still going to be part of the Miss Hawaii sisterhood, and I hope to continue to do community service and make my BRAVE. Hawaii program bigger and better than it’s ever been. Whether I have a title or not, I have a voice and I’m able to help people.
What do you enjoy doing that isn’t part of preparing for your next pageant or helping people through your BRAVE. Hawaii foundation?
I’m huge about K-pop. For my sister and me it’s something we really love. We love to travel for K-pop. We just came back from London in October to see a K-pop concert. It was our first time going there. We went to see Got7. My parents think it’s crazy, but it’s really fun. I also love learning — I love to learn about new things — and I have seven cats. I love animals.
If you could meet someone alive or dead, who would it be?
I would like to meet my grandmother from my mom’s side. She passed a year before I was born, but she used to sing, she loved performing on “Filipino Fiesta,” and she used to do flamenco dancing. She was just this really amazing person and I wish I’d had the chance to meet her.