September 6, 2013

Student Spotlight: Michelle Taylor

Hospitality and Restaurant Management major
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Fun Fact: Dreamed of being a gymnast growing up

Michelle Taylor
Michelle Taylor is pursuing a degree in
hospitality and restaurant management.
This year’s 2013 Miss Alaska, Michelle Taylor, is the first to admit she never thought she’d be competing in beauty scholarship pageants, much less be a Miss America contestant in Atlantic City on Sept. 15.

Like many, Michelle believed the stereotypes surrounding beauty pageants. It wasn’t until she attended a competition and followed some of the most famous beauty queens on social media that she realized it was much more than beautiful women wearing tiaras and fancy dresses.

“These women are well-rounded, poised professionals. They have great communication skills and want to be role models for young people in our nation. It’s inspiring that they take such an active role in the community, promoting their platforms and raising awareness to hot topics and issues we face in our country,” she says.

“I wanted to be one of those women.”

From pageant fan to royalty

It’s safe to say Michelle has achieved her goal of becoming a powerful, well-spoken and educated woman. Before she set out to win the Miss Alaska title, Michelle was in the audience, supporting and watching at the 2012 Miss Alaska Pageant.

She witnessed Debbe Eben, a contestant who shaved her head to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for childhood cancer research, win last year’s Miss Alaska Pageant; Michelle couldn’t help but feel inspired.

After receiving some advice from a family friend who won Miss Alaska in 1987, Michelle was ready to dive into the world of beauty pageants for the first time.

To get her feet wet, she competed in the 2012 Miss Anchorage Scholarship Pageant. At her first pageant, she finished as first runner-up.

"I was disappointed. I really wanted to win. I wanted to know everything I did wrong so I could work and practice and get better before the Miss Alaska pageant," she says.

With her eye on the prize, Michelle admits she didn’t enjoy the pageant experience at her first competition, so at the 2013 Miss Alaska Pageant she was going to relax, mingle more with her fellow contestants and focus on the experience rather than the crown.

"When I was called up for the top five in the Miss Alaska competition, I was going to be happy whichever way it went because I was so grateful to share this experience with the other contestants. I wasn’t as worried about placing in the competition, just learning from the other women and relishing in it."

Michelle’s plan worked—she wowed the judges and was crowned Miss Alaska in June.

"I was completely surprised and honored. I couldn’t believe it. It was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life."

Read the complete story about Michelle and why she decided to pursue a degree in hospitality and restaurant management in Green & Gold News.