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Miss Kona Coffee 2018 Tatiana Macomber ready to represent

November 18, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — For 17-year-old Tatiana Macomber, representing her Hawaiian roots and culture comes naturally.

Through her hula dancing, she’s had an opportunity to share her culture through her travels and involvement with luau. Aside from being one of her favorite things to do, it is also a way she stays connected to her roots.

“We’re telling stories that our kupuna, that our ancestors wrote years ago without any words,” she said. “We’re doing it through our hand motions, our movement of our body and our facial expressions. And I think that’s something really significant and different and I love to make people smile, and so that’s what makes me happy, really.”

Macomber counts her kumu hula, Nani Lim Yap, among her role models.

And now, as Miss Kona Coffee 2018, Macomber said she’s excited to be an ambassador for Kona coffee and represent the community.

“What makes Kona ‘Kona’ is its people,” she said. “And what really makes Kona unique is that the ‘aloha spirit’ is real and that aloha is not just a word, but it is a lifestyle. And if you come to Kona, you would feel that with just interacting with the people.”

“It’s the spirit of loving one another, caring for one another and respecting one another, no matter who you are or where you come from,” she added.

This was Macomber’s first time taking part in Miss Kona Coffee. Her mom brought up the idea in 2016, for her to compete in this year’s pageant, but she was resistant to the idea.

“I didn’t really have a desire to,” she said. “I mostly didn’t really want to go out on stage in a bikini and heels; that just wasn’t really me and wasn’t my thing, and I just wasn’t interested.”

But back in July, Macomber was at a hula festival at Hale Halawai when the granddaughter of the pageant’s founder stopped her and, after talking for a while, encouraged her to compete.

Eventually, she decided to go for it, thinking it would be a great opportunity to improve her stage presence, interview skills and other skills. It also helped her to move past her preconceptions about the pageant.

“I definitely overcame something that I was more uncomfortable doing,” she said. “And now I can say that I have worked on that and I have no issue with that whatsoever.”

Macomber graduated from high school in January. She attended Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino from sixth grade through the second semester of her sophomore year before finishing her high school studies early through a home-school program. She said she wanted to finish early to have an opportunity to travel.

She’s currently enrolled in online courses at Grand Canyon University in Arizona, where she’s studying to teach elementary education.

“I’ve always had a passion for children,” she said.

Macomber said her experience as a youth leader at her grandfather’s church was when she first realized the joy she got from being able to impact children’s lives and the way they think about themselves. She also had an opportunity to teach Hawaiian language to local students as part of an after-school program, which she also found rewarding.

“Teaching students of such a young age is not easy, but it’s something that I’ve always felt good about,” she said.

Today’s students, she said, face issues of lacking confidence and motivation to go after success, which she said can be the result of being complacent and a lack of encouragement to leave the island and experience new things.

As a result, students end up going into more mainstream careers rather than going after the things they want to pursue. As a result, she said, she’d love to be able to impact how kids see themselves and their opportunities.

“Because I was once that youth,” she said. “I was that Hawaiian girl that didn’t think that I would ever be able to travel and didn’t think that I would ever want to go to college, and so that’s why I’m so passionate about mentoring youth.”

To encourage students to pursue their goals, Macomber said she would help students overcome that by going into schools and sharing her own story.

“I know that for me, I was always impacted by the ones who don’t just speak about success and don’t just speak about how to achieve it but speak about their personal experiences and how they overcame obstacles that hindered them from succeeding,” she said. “And normally that starts from within.”

Macomber will compete in the Miss Hawaii Scholarship Pageant on June 2. The competition is the pageant that selects the representative for Hawaii in the Miss America Pageant.

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