Famous as the first Asian-American winner of the Miss America contest, she received the coveted pageant crown in 2001. The previous year, she had won the Miss Hawaii pageant title.
After earning a degree in elementary education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she taught physical education at the Holy Family Catholic Academy in Honolulu.
A vocal opponent of abortion, she publicly expressed her pro-life views in a pre-2008 presidential election video spot.
She and her nine siblings were born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, in a Filipino-American family of the Roman Catholic faith. With her husband, Polynesian musician Tinifuloa Grey, she raised four children and started a performing arts group called Isle Entertainment.
She and former Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan were both winners of the Miss America pageant (in 2001 and 2011, respectively).