Competing against nine other women, UCA freshman Nia Kelly was able to come out victorious and be crowned Miss UCA 2022.

Former Miss UCA Hannah Hagerman and Miss Arkansas Whitney Williams crowned 18-year-old Nia Kelly as Miss UCA for 2022 on Friday, November 19, 2021, in Reynolds Performance Hall as part of UCA’s annual Miss UCA pageant.

UCA President Houston Davis opened up the pageant, offering his support for the women competing along with outlining the potential winnings for the night.

“The primary purposes of this competition are to encourage, promote and support young women as they achieve their academic and personal goals. This is accomplished with the support of many generous individuals and businesses here in Conway and throughout the state of Arkansas with over $10,000 in scholarships available,” Davis said.

Along with being crowned the overall winner of the Miss UCA pageant, Kelly also won an award for Best Vocal or Instrumental Performance for her rendition of the song “Summertime” from the Broadway musical “Porgy and Bess.” With this award and the honor of being named Miss UCA, Kelly won $6,300 in scholarships.

Kelly is a vocal performance major at UCA, and through her social impact initiative Creatively Intelligent through Performing Arts, she’ll look to spread the same joy and opportunities that she has been able to receive through the arts to others in the community.

“Performing arts provide you with the skillset to be able to speak to others and be able to learn faster. My goal is to advance the arts through my social impact initiative Creatively Intelligent through Performing Arts. It is my desire to work on local, state and national levels to support and advance the arts by creating awareness and partnering with schools and community events, thus preparing our youth for a better tomorrow through the arts,” Kelly said.

Kelly will be working toward her goals through her initiative in the coming year as she becomes an ambassador for UCA.

The runner-ups for Miss UCA include second place Mattison Gafner, a sophomore journalism major, third place Shalexis Shelton, an occupational therapy graduate student, fourth place Emma Park, a junior psychology and pre-occupational therapy major, and fifth place Alivia Williams, a junior exercise science and pre-occupational therapy major.

With Nia Kelly being named the new Miss UCA, Hannah Hagerman passed the crown on to her successor after being an ambassador for UCA for the past two years, attending over 55 events in her time as Miss UCA. 

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