Savvy Shields settling in as first Miss America from Arkansas in 34 years

Photo: Courtesy, Miss America Organization/Bruce V. Boyajian

The old adage “heavy is the head that wears the crown” doesn’t seem to apply to newly crowned Miss America, Savvy Shields.

The Fayetteville native, who earlier this fall became the first Arkansas woman in 34 years to win the prestigious pageant, seems to be handling her new role with all the grace and style of, well, someone who won the Miss America pageant.

Shields beat out 51 other contestants, including women from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to become only the third Miss Arkansas to ever win the pageant. Actress Grace Elizabeth Ward (who later changed her name to Elizabeth Gracen) of Russellville was the last Arkansan to hold the distinction, and Donna Axum of El Dorado won the pageant in 1964.

The 21-year-old University of Arkansas student has been incredibly busy these past several weeks, but we caught up with her via email in between appearances on the road to find out how she’s enjoying being Miss America so far.

So, you’re Miss America now. Congrats! How long did it take for that to sink in? Has fully it hit you yet?

It took a while for it to sink in! For me it was really at one homecoming event at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. There was a luncheon held for me and I really didn’t get how big deal it was. They announced my name at one moment and I walked down the grand staircase escorted by a state trooper to the iconic Miss America song “There She Is” and I saw so many familiar faces. That moment was so grand and it finally became real to me.

Photo: Courtesy, Miss America Organization/Bruce V. Boyajian

What has surprised you most about your time as Miss America so far?
I think so far the biggest surprise is that people recognize me when I go places, that was something I wasn’t prepared for.

What does it mean to you to be only the third woman ever from Arkansas to become Miss America?
I love Arkansas and it is so special to me to be the third woman crowned from this great state and all its wonderful people.

As I understand it, you’re still a student at the University of Arkansas, correct? How are you balancing your studies with the demands created by your new role?
There is no way I could study anything right now! Miss America takes a year off of school for a reason. With all the travel, I’m lucky to get a workout in.

Whenever we travel, we’ve found that a lot of folks from around the country don’t know anything at all about Arkansas. Have you encountered much of this, and what do you tell those folks?
People smile and warm up when I say I’m from Arkansas, but I think that’s because I get so excited to say it! I bring up the fantastic people that make this state so great and how it has so much to offer to anyone who visits.

Your platform was “Eat better, live better,” so we have to ask. Where do you like to eat when you’re at home in Fayetteville?
Honestly, I eat out so much, I love to eat at home whenever I’m in Fayetteville and roast my own vegetables. But, I do love Arsagas.

What are some things you hope to accomplish in the next year as Miss America?
I hope to make a positive impact everywhere I go!

This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit