A UA journalism senior has been named the new Miss Arkansas after Arkansas’ candidate was crowned the 2017 Miss America.
Savannah Skidmore, who competed in the Miss Arkansas pageant this summer as Miss UofA, got the call asking her to take over as Miss Arkansas early in the morning after the Miss America pageant.
She was first runner up at the Miss Arkansas pageant, and she won a preliminary award for Lifestyle and Fitness in the swimsuit category.
“I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to take the position if Savvy won, which we all knew she had a good shot,” Skidmore said.
Skidmore said that when Savvy Shields was crowned Miss America on Sunday, she went through a rush of emotion.
“When they announced her name, when they called Arkansas as the winner on Sunday night, I was just overwhelmed with joy for her and excitement for what was to come for me,” Skidmore said.
Skidmore’s platform “Speak Up Now: Suicide Prevention and Awareness,” was inspired by events during her freshman year of college, when her uncle died by suicide. She bears a small semicolon tattoo on her wrist in remembrance of him.
“It really impacted my family. It’s something that you don’t ever see coming,” she said. “No one ever thinks that that’s going to happen to their family or that close to home.”
She said she hopes to spend some of her year as Miss Arkansas speaking not only to high school and elementary school students about the warning signs for suicide and how to help someone considering suicide, but also to her college-aged peers.
For people ages 15-24, suicide was the second-leading cause of death in 2014, falling only behind unintentional injury, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Skidmore’s talent for the competition was singing, a skill she picked up at her home church and at county fair talent shows.
“It’s been something that I’ve just fallen even deeper in love with since starting this journey,” she said.
Skidmore participated in Miss Preteen Arkansas, a scholarship competition that has a similar setup to a pageant, when she was 10 years old, but stopped competing until she got to college.
“As I got older, I kind of fell out of being a girly-girl. I got into sports. I played basketball,” she said.
When she arrived at the UofA, she saw pageants as an opportunity to get involved with the community. She began preparing for Miss Arkansas as soon as she won Miss UofA.
After this year is over, Skidmore said she plans to come back to school to finish her journalism degree. She said she wants to use the $25,000 Miss Arkansas scholarship to go to graduate school.
After taking a year off from Miss Arkansas, she will have the option to compete again for the crown and her shot at Miss America, but said she wants to wait and see how this year goes before she makes that decision.
“I think it’s going to be great, and I’m very ready for the job,” she said.