The Doors That Opened after Winning Miss America

Apart from the scholarships, winning Miss America opened many opportunities for Baraquio. She attracted offers from many schools, churches, ethnic groups, and private companies for speaking engagements. It also helped her build contacts such as when President Bush invited her and her husband to attend a state dinner at the White House. There, she met former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo. She became the spokesperson for other nonprofit organizations such as America’s Promise, Children’s Miracle Network, and the Alliance for Youth Make a Difference Day.

Winning the Miss America pageant on October 14, 2000, was considered as a realization of Angela Perez Baraquio and her family’s American dream. She used her platform to promote her advocacy of “Character in the Classroom: Teaching Values, Valuing Teachers.” She believes that it is not enough to just aim for high grades. What is more important, as Baraquio shared, is the values instilled in the students. She believes in infusing character education to children and youths. Negative behaviors of students can be turned around if they know that adults can be trusted and adults trust them. Adults should model good character traits.

After getting married, she moved to Southern California to be closer to her husband’s family. At first, she tried to get some acting and hosting jobs and tried her chance in the entertainment industry. However, she was adamant that her values will come first and foremost. If the offer was against her Catholic principle and conservative belief (for example, a swimsuit calendar shoot), then she won’t accept it. There was an opportunity for her to be cast on locally produced shows but she refused as they were mere decorative roles. Obviously, Baraquio wanted to go to show business not for stardom but to expand her platform to talk about the importance of family and character building. She also formed the Angela Perez Baraquio Education Foundation, had been the First Hawaiian Bank spokesperson, and studied mortgage business to become a real estate investor.

Baraquio is currently the principal at St. Anthony of Padua School in Los Angeles county and she said that her dream, in one of her interviews, is to be a superintendent of public schools in Hawaii. She wants to lead the education system to help children who are shuffled in and out of the schools. Her goal is to raise the standards for teachers by incentivizing good teachers and eliminate those that perform below par. Baraquio believed that teachers’ wages should be increased. In her experience, many teachers who don’t have children considered their students as their own. They would shell out money from their own pockets to conduct school activities and projects but never reimbursed. This kind of dedication should be rewarded. She became aware of how low teachers make when exposed to other industries. Those who just graduated are sometimes earning more than teachers who are serving for more than thirty years. Baraquio also wanted to elevate the quality of teaching by peer-to-peer mentorship. One way is to videotape the teacher while holding a class, the cohort can then give positive feedback, ask questions, and suggest ways to improve. It will help the teacher to examine his/her self and be objective about his/her teaching.

Baraquio was a devout Catholic and is known for her anti-abortion stance. She is also active in supporting Republican politicians. In 2003, she hosted a series of television shows for Governor Linda Lingle who was the sixth governor of Hawaii from 2002 until 2010. She was also one of the major supporters of Senator Sam Brownback for his 2008 Republican Presidential primary season. She said that what drawn her to support Brownback was his strong opposition to abortion which Baraquio 100% agree with. In one of her interviews, she mentioned that the most dangerous place for a child is a mother’s womb, and she had been a prominent conservative Catholic public speaker to advocate for her pro-life stance. Apart from anti-abortion advocacy, her speaking engagements also focus on topics of positivity, motivating the youth, and building their character. Some of her talks are free but others paid up to $6,000 to hear her speak. 

In her faith-based inspirational memoir, “Amazing Win, Amazing Loss: Miss America Living Happily, EVEN After“, she talked about the highs and lows of winning the crown and the years after it. She was encouraged by peers to write her experience immediately after winning but she was only 24 years old then and didn’t feel ready. In 2013, she committed to writing it and finally published the book in September 2014. Apart from her experience in Miss America, Baraquio also talked about her experiences of being a first-generation Filipino growing up in Hawaii, as well as her brother’s suicide.

Post written by Myrtle Dixon. Myrtle can also be found on Harper’s Bazaar and writing about Credit Unions, travel, and fashion.