In a competition that requires both beauty and brains, it can become easy to forget the main purpose of winning the coveted title — to serve as an inspiration for others. But that wasn’t the case for two local teens.

Zaria Jerese Muna Fejeran, 18, was crowned Miss Teen Guam 2019. A recent graduate of John F. Kennedy High School, she hopes to pursue her dreams of becoming a criminal psychologist.

According to Fejeran, the title she holds becomes the platform on which she can stand for what she believes in. She wants to convince others that nothing should stop them from achieving their goals.

“I had a dream that I was part of a pageant, and when I woke up, it sparked my interest,” Fejeran said. “One day, I shared the idea with my mom, and she took me to sign up. That is how the journey started.”

Vying for a prestigious title comes with challenges, but Fejeran was fortunate to work with two mentors — Davelene Toves and Driana Mafnas.

“The only obstacle I had was my learning disability, which I used as a tool to organize my thoughts and my ideas,” Fejeran said.

The recent graduate’s grandparents, Maria Evangelista and David Evangelista, made all of her costumes while Driana Mafnas taught her how to walk and talk as well as aided her in supplies.

In addition, Davelene Toves made sure that everything her team worked for was organized and ready to go by watching every detail and fixing it up.

“I had a great team with me, and they didn’t make me feel that I was obligated to make any sacrifices,” Fejeran said.

It is quite a challenge to be in a very time-consuming activity during senior year as one needs to juggle maintaining grades, performing well in other extracurricular activities, and applying to colleges. Despite the struggle, Fejeran did not fall short as she scheduled her plans and strictly followed the order of events.

Hoping to be a role model for others, the recent graduate talked about diarist Anne Frank and how the mother figure remains optimistic in a time of crisis. On the other hand, Fejeran’s male role model is Iron Man, of “Avengers” fame, because even though he seems presumptuous, he is caring to everyone.

Fejeran concluded by revealing what it takes to hold a prestigious title, especially at a time when society emphasizes outer beauty.

“It’s not about the way we look. It’s the message we are giving that will influence them,” Fejeran said.

Acquiring confidence

A cultural dancer in Inetnon Gefpå'go, 14-year-old Ken Jay Sablan Paulino stays active by running and lifting weights every other day. Crowned Mister Teen Guam 2019, it was a dream come true for the Talofofo resident since he always wanted to be a part of the pageant life since he was 10.

“I really wanted to go through the experience that models do, and I’m so glad that my uncle encouraged me to pursue it,” he said.

In the beginning, Paulino dropped out because he was really nervous, but his uncle encouraged him to think about the pageant. The Southern High School student describes the platform as really important to him because he finds it motivating when people from Guam are known around the world.

“I was really shy before I joined, so the pageant motivated me to open up,” Paulino said. “I started working out to tone my body so I can be more confident with it. After rehearsals, I went home and went over everything I was taught.”

It was very difficult for the Talofofo resident to choose between going out with his friends or attending events for modeling. Due to his dedication, he stuck with the latter.

“My coach, Jazlene Tomagan, helped me with everything from my poses to how to walk, to my costumes and my makeup,” Paulino said. “The hardest sacrifice was to cancel plans with my family because I love spending time with them.”

Paulino’s plans for this summer include going out and staying true to his platform — spreading the local culture around the island.

“We need to know our roots and what we're all about, and I think I can do it through cultural dancing because every dance tells a different story,” Paulino said.

After the pageant, Paulino felt like the greatest lesson he learned from his experience is to always remain modest.

“Humility will help you a lot, and hard work with dedication are integral aspects of success. Make sure you always build up your confidence, but never be too confident,” he said.

To win with gorgeousness and intelligence is commendable, but to serve as a beacon of inspiration for others takes character and a big heart.

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