Law school student wins Miss Hawaii pageant


Beauty and brains. Yet another female law school student/graduate has won a pageant.

Courtney Choy was recently crowned Miss Hawaii. The very next day, she graduated from William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

That’s quite a weekend …

She wants to use the title and her degree to further women’s causes.  “Now that I’ve obtained my Juris Doctor, I’m excited to bring that to Miss Hawaii and empower the next generation of girls and women in our state to just be themselves and be you at every in every aspect of your life,” Choy told Hawaii News Now.

That allows her to compete for the Miss America title, which will be held in December in Connecticut.

As said, she’s not alone in earning such accolades.

Cheslie Corrinne Kryst was crowned Miss USA in 2019. She’s a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law and represented North Carolina in the pageant. She wasn’t the only barrister in the bunch.

Savannah Skidmore, then a first-year law school student at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, finished in the top five of that contest. She represented Arkansas.

Some women win pageants and then go on to be law students. That’s the case with Teresa Scanlan, who won the Miss America pageant in 2011 and then used her talents to get into a top law school. She’s went to UC Berkeley School of Law.  

Ashley Halfman won the Miss Alabama pageant in 1998. A graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, she’s now the general counsel and vice president of the global packaging company Printpack.

In an ABA Journal podcast called “Trials and tiaras: How do pageant winners fare as lawyers?” both Scanlan and Halfman spoke of how their pageant experience helped them in law school.

For one, these competitions teach you how to be poised and confident under pressure. Secondly, they teach you how to overcome failure. Both noted they did not win every contest.

Law school, of course, is known for being competitive. Halfman noted how she to learned to “graciously accept” not being the winner every time and that she learned to enjoy both the pageant and law school journeys.

One of their biggest motivations for entering these contests was the scholarship money. Halfman earned $50,000 and, with academic scholarships, graduated from undergrad and law school debt free.

This goes both ways, apparently. The rigors of law school can help with the rigors of pageants.

Choy noted how law school helped her in her pageant quest. “And actually, being in law school prepared me for Miss Hawaii. It’s about knowing myself advocating for issues I care about and connecting with community members,” Choy told KHON2, a local TV station.


Courtney Choy receiving her diploma from Law Dean Camille Nelson in the hybrid graduation ceremony May 13 at the University of Hawai'i. Photo by Mike Orbito, Courtesy of William S. Richardson School of Law.