Samoan beauty queen
Mariah Limala'u Rae Naea's story is inspiring and definitely worthy of being shared.
The reigning Miss Teen U.S. Continents is the daughter of Dorothy Meaole, and granddaughter of Ketesemane Meaole and Afano Limala'u Lemauga Meaole who sadly passed away at age 45 in 1994 due to colon cancer.
Mariah is an only child and was raised in a single parent household but she is proof that perseverance pays off, and anything and everything is possible.
Her current title isn't the only one she's held. As a matter of fact, Mariah's pageant journey, according to her mom Dorothy, began two years ago in 2015 and since then, she has been crowned Miss Teen Culture International Las Vegas, Miss Teen American Samoa United States 2016-2017, Miss Teen California U.S. Continents 2017, and most recently, Miss Teen U.S. Continents 2017- 2018.
Mariah captured the Miss Teen American Samoa United States title during the United States National Pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But what was supposed to be a joyous occasion for the young beauty was marred by criticism from people who issued threats directed at her and her mother via phone calls and emails.
According to Dorothy, the Miss Teen American Samoa United States is different from the annual Ms. American Samoa pageant held in the territory. "The sad thing is, we received phone calls and emails threatening Mariah that she couldn't compete using the "American Samoa" name in her title," Dorothy told Samoa News. "We even had people following us at events saying they were the advocates from American Samoa so my dad had to go to the Lieutenant Governor to make sure Mariah wasn't doing any harm by competing in the national pageant representing American Samoa."
Throughout her reign, despite what the naysayers were dishing out, Mariah pushed forward and kept her cool. She volunteered at youth rallies and events across California "in hopes to promote my platform - encouraging others through self-confidence building."
Mariah told Samoa News yesterday that her ultimate goal is "to speak to our youth about the importance of confidence and ways we can create a more positive society."
She continued, "Something I love about my platform is how it's able to promote so many other organizations and causes other than itself. Self-confidence and positivity are the foundations of so many different areas of success, which is why it's so important. My passion for this has encouraged me to take my platform to a national level and continue with my pageant career."
Earlier this year, Mariah won the title of Miss Teen California Continents 2017 and she then competed and won the national title of Miss Teen US Continents 2017-2018.
Next year, she will represent the United States and compete against other beauties from around the world for the Miss Teen Continents 2018-2019 crown.
Aside from pageantry, Mariah participates in many extracurricular activities. She was a competitive athlete, participating in soccer and volleyball, playing both sports for 8 years "and gaining tons of leadership opportunities throughout my middle school and high school years."
According to her mom, Mariah started playing soccer when she was 9 years old and eventually started Club Soccer (competitive play) when she was 12.
She then started playing club volleyball at age 14 and ended up playing volleyball and soccer for her high school teams.
Her accomplishments don't stop there, however. She was also a PO3 in the NJROTC program but after two years in the program, she said she decided to broaden her horizon as far as other opportunities at the high school level.
Mariah is extremely involved in the fashion industry as a model, taking part in multiple fashion shows and print work internationally, and she plans to continue this career path throughout college.
She recently graduated from Patrick Henry High School and plans to study journalism in college during the fall, with the goal of being in front of the camera - not as a model - but as a news anchor.
"Mariah has always been the different kid," Dorothy Meaole said of her daughter. "She pretty much kept to herself; but she was very close to her family and a few friends."
Mariah attended a school for performing arts during elementary and middle school and even received a scholarship for a free semester when she was only 9 years old.
"She was on the honor roll every year of her schooling, except her senior year because of two concussions and surgery," Dorothy shared, adding that at the time, Mariah was out of school for two months and was practically failing.
"She fought hard to get better. She caught up, and finished strong," Dorothy added.
Mariah's love for helping kids with special needs shined through during prom.
"There were over 400 kids with different disabilities and she took a special training class in order to be a chaperone at the event," Dorothy shared. "She gives back to the Oceanside Community often and gets involved in city events. She also models for the Heiva San Diego yearly event too."
Dorothy continued, "There are so many things Mariah and I do to try to reach out to the youth. We try to encourage them that anything is possible and that having confidence within themselves plays a huge part in their success in life!"
Dorothy's work history includes various jobs within the medical field but five years ago, she had to start focusing on Mariah's schoolwork, sports, and modeling career. "Little did I know she would add pageantry to list of hobbies."
Mariah has been modeling for the past 5 years and she works for several different designers. She also models on FOX 5 News in San Diego, CA during their fashion segments.
Dorothy said her father has been a huge part of Mariah's upbringing and credits him for her parenting style.
She said although she is a single parent, her dad and brothers were the father figures in Mariah's life.
"Mariah is truly the best daughter I could have ever hoped for," said Dorothy. "She is my life, my world, my everything. We are a great mommy and daughter duo. Not only is she my daughter, she's my best friend."
For now, Dorothy said she wants any misunderstandings about the "Miss Teen American Samoa United States" title to be cleared up and she is hopeful that "the clarification will show other Samoan girls that they could do it too if they're interested in this kind of stuff. Mariah hopes to open doors for other Polynesian girls too."