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Erika Kwee

2023 Distinguished Young Woman of Hawai'i
Scholarship - Leadership - Talent

Honolulu, HI.   Erika Kwee, 17, of Honolulu was named the 2023 Distinguished Young Woman (DYW) of Hawaii on Sunday, November 13, 2022 and was awarded $7,000 in cash scholarships at the 64th annual statewide scholarship program. This year’s event was live after two years of virtual showcases, and the participants were evaluated in the categories of Scholastics (25%), Interview (25%), Talent (20%), Fitness (15%) and Self-Expression (15%). 


Erika, daughter of Sandi Kwee, MD and Leilani Kaanehe, MD, won a $4,500 cash scholarship, a trip to the 2023 Distinguished Young Women National Finals in Mobile, Alabama, a 4-year tuition scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University, and wardrobe for the national finals from Jams World. Erika also took home an additional $1000 in cash scholarship as a Talent winner for her classical violin performance, $1,000 as the Top Scholar, and $500 in the category of Self-Expression. 


Erika will have the opportunity to win a $30,000 cash scholarship when she represents Hawaii at the end of June at the National Finals in Mobile, Alabama. In the fall, she will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Carlee Marcello, a Sacred Hearts Academy senior, was 1st runner-up and was awarded a $3,500 cash scholarship and a $12,000 HPU tuition scholarship. Carlee also won $500 in the Fitness category and $500 for the Service to Others award. She is the daughter of Jeffrey and Joni Marcello.


The 2nd runner-up award went to Misty Cruden, a senior at Waiakea High School and the daughter Gary and Maria Cruden. Misty won a $2,500 cash scholarship and a $12,000 HPU tuition scholarship. She also received $1,000 for her top Interview, and $500 for Self-Expression.


Other award winners include: Felicity Zhou of Punahou School, $500 as the Be Your Best Self essay award winner, $500 for the Corlis J. Chang No’ono’opono Award, and $1000 as a Top Scholar; Sara Ota of Punahou School, $500 for Fitness; Kimiko Suyat-Okamoto of Kamehameha Schools, $1000 for Talent; and Angela Yu, $1,000 for Interview.


DYW Hawaii is the state’s longest running scholarship program for high school senior girls, providing students opportunities to earn over $22,000 in cash scholarships, 4-year tuition scholarships to Hawaii Pacific University, and many other awards provided by local sponsors. The non-profit scholarship program, previously called Hawaii’s Junior Miss, is run entirely by volunteers, and is available to high school senior girls across the state.




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