19 April 2009

Miss Hawaii Teen USA sees win as missionary opportunity

Every morning at 4:30 a.m., Ashley Moser's alarm rings insistently, waking her so she can get to her 6 a.m. LDS seminary class across the island.

Add to that her senior class load at Punahou School (Barack Obama's alma mater), volunteering at a local adult day care, prepping for college, taking care of her duties as Miss Hawaii Teen USA and Moser is a busy 17-year-old.

But she's not complaining. She's happy to be doing what she's always wanted to do, which combines performing on stage and sharing the gospel.

"It is a sacrifice (to get to seminary) but it's the best one I've ever made," Moser said. "Seminary helps me feel the spirit all through the day."

The spirit is also helping her realize her dreams. Moser is certain that the Lord is behind her successes.

"I always wanted to be a princess," said Moser, who was in her first pageant as a baby and who grew up watching pageants.

"I'm very thankful for pageants," she said. "My mom did pageants. That's how she got a scholarship to BYU-Hawaii. She was not a member at the time so by going there, she found the gospel and my dad. As a result, our whole family is in the church."

She's grown up being one of the few Mormons in her school classes. (At Punahou, out of 400 in the senior class, only five are Mormon.)

Moser said she finds lots of opportunities to let others know she's LDS as she attends weekend functions with Miss Hawaii USA whether it's an auto show or a ribbon-cutting.

"It's a great gospel conversation tool," she said. "It's really awesome."

As she prepared for the Miss Hawaii Teen pageant, she kept gospel standards in mind as she selected her evening gown and her swimsuit.

The swimsuit competition worried her because normally Moser doesn't wear a two-piece suit. She and her mother even sought advice from Miss Utah/Miss America 1985 Sharlene Wells Hawkes.

She eventually reasoned that competing in the swimsuit segment could help show the benefits of keeping the Word of Wisdom.

She picked out an inexpensive gown that looked classy and had a back. She then added rhinestones.

For the upcoming Miss Teen USA competition on July 31 in the Bahamas, she'll have a dress made for the evening gown event, one she can design to her standards.

On stage and in person, she's comfortable. and she likes meeting all kinds of new people so the judge's interviews are fun for her. She doesn't stress over media attention or spotlights.

"I get energy from being on stage," she said. "I enjoy it."

She felt like she and her mom and dad (Kendall and Sandra Sagisi Moser) won the crown together after she'd come in second in several pageant competitions and thinking she'd always be a first runner-up.

"They pushed me but in a good way," she said.

She also thanks her Heavenly Father.

"I know I wouldn't have won without it (the Lord's help). I told the Lord if I were fortunate enough to win, I would try to set an example for others. I'm so, so grateful."
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