Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2009 | People

Olivia Myers

By IAM Staff

Why was she in the news?

This past winter, an international audience of thousands watched UI student Olivia Myers fulfill a childhood dream. A 2009 Miss America finalist, Myers drew extensive television and newspaper coverage for representing her home state in the pageant—as well as her participation in The Learning Channel's reality show "Countdown to the Crown," which asked viewers to cast votes for their favorite contestants.

Thanks to her impressive platform, academic success, and tap-dancing prowess, Myers was crowned second runner-up; the little girl from Sperry who grew up watching Miss America claimed a rose bouquet and scholarship of her own.

What's the big deal?

Miss America is among the nation's oldest and most recognized achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarships for young women—last year making available more than $45 million in cash and tuition assistance. Like so many before her, Myers donned a dazzling evening gown and megawatt smile, imagining family and friends cheering her on from home as she strode across the Las Vegas stage. Her outstanding performance during the judges' interviews, swimsuit modeling, and talent competition secured her a place in the top 15—and a huge public forum for promoting the causes she finds important.

What is she doing now?

Myers is on hiatus from the UI, where she majors in history and social studies education and one day hopes to earn a Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership. She will return to the UI in the fall, but, for now, stays busy making appearances at schools, charity events, and area hospitals. She works to promote the national Character Counts movement, as well as her own platform of teaching tolerance and respect for diversity in the classroom. Says Myers: "My mission is to nurture . . . a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that empowers our youth to discover peace in their individuality, respect for those who are different, the capacity to discern humane values, and the courage to act upon them."