Nicole Kelly, Miss Iowa 2013


I was born without my left forearm. (Although, when people ask me what happened to my arm, I like to ask, “Well, what do you think happened?” My favorite explanation to date has been that it was bitten off by a shark…a perfect explanation for someone from Iowa.) As I grew older, I learned to offset the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give in to “No.” This meant that I tried everything! From baseball, to dance to diving, there was nothing I would not try. I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare…the stage.

Theater became not only my outlet but my chosen career path. In May of 2012, I graduated from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln with a degree in Directing and Theatre Management. While attending school, I spent my summers working in Massachusetts at the Williamstown Theatre Festival (via the wonderful VSA program, the International Organization on Arts and Disability, which now is a part of my platform) and in New Mexico at the Santa Fe Opera.

The year prior to being crowned Miss Iowa 2013 was one big adventure! I spent my time between Iowa, Illinois and New York. In September 2012, I began an internship in NYC with the Broadway theatre company, Manhattan Theatre Club. During the winter of 2012, I headed to Chicago to intern with the Goodman Theatre. With the new year, I was offered the position of Child Guardian on the Broadway play The Assembled Parties (nominated for Best Play at the 2013 Tony Awards) which I completed just prior to competing for Miss Iowa.

A year ago, I certainly didn’t see “pageant titleholder” in my future. Perhaps I didn’t originally envision this path, but I now know that being Miss Iowa is the perfect fit for me, and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people who have encouraged me every step of the way. Giving a voice to my platform, Overcoming Disabilities, is a tremendous honor and I am thrilled to continue my adventure by speaking out and touching lives as Miss Iowa 2013.

Indian Hills Community College (IA)
Iowa Western Community College
Luther College (IA)
Millersville Universith (PA)
Penn State University – Shenango
Radford University (VA)
Reading Area Community College (PA)
Sauk Valley Community College (IL)
University of Akron (OH)
Upper Iowa University