Nicole Kelly challenges the stereotypes behind the labels 'pageant queen' and 'disabled'
Nicole Kelly, Miss Iowa 2013, will give a presentation about overcoming stereotypes at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in Room 206 of the Valders Hall of Science on the Luther College campus.
Her inspiring presentation on "The Power of One" is sponsored by SAC Leadership and is open to the public with no charge for admission.
"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," said Kelly.
Kelly's presentation at Luther focuses on the seemingly incompatible labels "pageant queen" and "disability" and how one person can make a difference in changing stereotypes. In sharing her experiences, she hopes to challenge audiences to question their preconceptions, think outside the box and critique the practice of labeling people.
The 23-year-old, born without her left forearm and hand, learned to offset the initial stares she received from people with an outgoing personality; she would not give in to "no" and tried every activity from baseball to dance to diving.
"I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare… the stage," Kelly said.
Prior to being crowned Miss Iowa, Kelly spent time traveling and working different theatre positions in a number of cities. In 2012, she began an internship in New York City with the Manhattan Theatre Club, a theatre company on Broadway.
Most recently, she was offered the position of Child Guardian in the Tony-nominated play "The Assembled Parties."
Kelly holds a bachelor's degree in directing and theatre management from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her sister, Alaina Kelly Tuttle, is a 2008 Luther alumna.