Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields was crowned Miss America on Sept. 11 after competing against 51 other women representing their home states. Shields, 21, from Fayetteville, beat the competition by impressing the judges with her jazz routine during the talent portion and her answer to a question about presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
During a press conference after the ceremony, Shields expanded upon her views of America’s current political environment.
“Our country was founded on compromise,” she said. “I really think we’re in a state now where both parties seem to just be yelling at each other. I hope that by the end of my year, (we start) to reward politicians on compromising instead of just defending themselves.”
Before Shields walked the stage and won the judges’ hearts and the title of Miss America, she walked the same stage as Harding junior Abby Loring. They met at a national pageant in Orlando where Loring held the title of Miss Tennessee High School America and Shields was Miss Arkansas Collegiate America. Shields went on to win that competition. Loring described Shields as an extraordinary young woman.
“She is just one of those people that shines and literally brightens the room when she walks in,” Loring said.
Although Shields and Loring were not in the same age division, Loring said Shields made an effort to remember her name and speak with her about her application to Harding.
When Shields won the national title for Collegiate America, Loring said Shields did a lot for the organization, and was a great role model to girls.
“Savvy is genuinely sweet, has a big heart and wants to make a difference,” Loring said.
Alumna Tabor Hammond said she met Shields in the summer of 2011 when the two competed together at Miss Arkansas High.
“We were drawn to each other from the beginning because in our lineup we were right next to each other and both wore black dresses in evening gown,” Hammond said.
Hammond said that even she as a contestant voted for Shields to win Miss Congeniality because of her encouraging nature in the dressing room.
Junior Amber Ward, also a Fayetteville native, said she competed against Shields at the collegiate Miss Arkansas pageantry level and was the first runner-up behind Shields.
“That was (Shields’) first technical Miss Arkansas preliminary win, and it is often indicitive of success in the industry in general,” Ward said.
Ward said that there are many levels of paegeantry and that Shields has consistently competed and found success at numerous levels.
“(Shields) is a pageant girl through and through,” Ward said. “She is very driven. She dances daily, she is always working on her interview questions and her platform is ‘Live Well, Eat Well,’ so she is always keeping up with the physical demands of the competition.”
The winner of Miss America receives a six-figure salary, paid expenses for the year and a $50,000 scholarship. After her reign as Miss America, Shields will return to Fayetteville to finish her senior year with a major in art and a minor in business at the University of Arkansas.