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)
Penn State University – Shenango
Radford University (VA)
Reading Area Community College (PA)
Sauk Valley Community College (IL)
University of Akron (OH)
Upper Iowa University