After Miss America, Miss Iowa looks forward to a year of service to the state

After competing in the Miss America pageant, UI student Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw will continue on her year of service for the state of Iowa.

Alexandra Skores, News Reporter

A UI student competed in the 2018 Miss America pageant as Miss Iowa, and though she didn’t win the title, she left with what she described as the experience of a lifetime.

Just last semester, Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw was walking around the University of Iowa campus, ordering coffee at the Java House and being a typical college student. Now, she will return to the UI in the fall of 2019 for her senior year as the Miss Iowa winner with $11,000 in scholarships from Miss Iowa and $3,000 from Miss America.

“I was in complete shock when they announced my name,” she said. “The women I competed with in Iowa are some of the most accomplished women I have ever met. They are scholars, advocates, leaders in their communities, and some of my dearest friends. I was honored, excited, and speechless when my name was called.”

Excited and hopeful about the competition, Hughes-Shaw traveled to Atlantic City with friends and family. She spoke about the unforgettable experiences there and how deeply rooted Miss America is with the history of the city.

“I carried everyone and every experience that has shaped me to that stage. I have never felt more confident or beautiful in my entire life,” Hughes-Shaw said. “I was able to speak my truth and share my story with new people, which made this experience so worth it.”

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After Hughes-Shaw was crowned Miss Clinton County in 2017, Josie Hove, Miss Clinton County’s Outstanding Teen of 2017, and she have remained close throughout the process.

“After watching Miss America, I can honestly say that I could not be prouder of Mikhayla,” Hove said. “Everything she put on that stage was her best, and it was perfect. Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw is the embodiment of Miss America, and I can’t wait to see the rest of her year as Miss Iowa unfold.”

Hove noted how nervous she had been to compete in 2017, but Hughes-Shaw was always there for her to serve as a mentor. She said the small conversations were what helped her the most.

Alongside the help of her friends and family, Hughes-Shaw said, the Miss Iowa scholarship program provided her with a lot of support and helped her tremendously with her trip to Atlantic City.

“Mikhayla is a shining example of why I volunteer with this program,” said Rachael Vopatek, the Miss Iowa board president and director of public relations & marketing. “She is an amazing young woman with endless potential. Though her Miss America experience didn’t end with a new crown on her head, I honestly could not be more proud of her. We are thrilled to get to keep her as our Miss Iowa until June.”

Hughes-Shaw said she is forever grateful to the Miss Iowa scholarship program.

“I will continue to travel the state and beyond for the duration of my year as Miss Iowa,” she said. “I am going to say yes to [almost] every opportunity that comes my way, because you never know when an unexpected moment will be a life-changing one. I like to think I have one of the coolest jobs in the state — who else gets to make a difference while wearing a shiny hat?”