More than 35 students, parents and faculty members of St. Anthony of Padua School in Gardena gathered at a local library the afternoon of Dec. 3 to support a very special author for the launch of her first book: Angela Perez Baraquio, vice principal of St. Anthony’s and former Miss America 2001, who recently released her faith-based memoir “Amazing Win, Amazing Loss … Miss America Living Happily, Even After.”

In her book, Perez Baraquio — who was the first Asian-American Miss America — discusses how she tackled fame, depression and adversity with the help of faith, family and friends to find happiness as an educator, wife and mother of four kids. 

Born and raised in Hawaii to Filipino parents, Perez Baraquio was one of 10 siblings. From an early age, she turned to her faith in God and has always prayed for His guidance, through both good times and bad, including her triumphant wins, and the tragedy of her brother’s suicide.

During the recent book launch event, Perez Baraquio read excerpts from her memoir and participated in a meet-and-greet with fans, students and fellow staff, family and friends, as well as other supporters.  

“It is a wonder to see such an impressive and accomplished woman [of faith] with so many career opportunities decide to serve in the highest vocational calling — that of working with and educating children,” Micah Sumner, principal of St. Anthony of Padua, told The Tidings. “We’re so happy to have her on board.”

To learn more about Angela Perez Baraquio or to order a copy of her book, please go to