By Madeline Zuckerman
Never in the 100 year history of the Miss America Organization has a reigning Miss America ever visited the Coachella Valley . . .but there is always a first time!
Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles’ whirlwind trip to the Valley was graciously sponsored by Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center, Desert Family Medical Center, and Koffi Coffee. Chaperoned by Dr. Kimberley Yang, Broyles many stops included visits to St. Theresa’s Catholic School, Desert Arc, Koffi Coffee, and being the Guest Celebrity for a “Day of Beauty” at Contour Dermatology.
Emma Broyles is the first Korean-American to ever hold the prestigious title of Miss America. She is also the first Miss Alaska to be crowned Miss America, being a second generation Alaskan. Broyles never expected to be named Miss Alaska and then Miss America so early on. After being named Miss Alaska’s Outstanding Teen, a friend suggested she enter the Miss America competition. Broyles was already a singer, so she thought she would enter, especially after she realized she could potentially earn a scholarship to attend college, and pursue her dream of becoming a dermatologist. She won the title of Miss Alaska at age 19, and then went on to win the Miss America title at age 20.
Broyles learned very early on about the importance of inclusion. Her older brother Brendan has down syndrome, and her mom was a Special Olympics figure skating coach, as well as, a special education teacher. Now in her ninth month of her one-year reign as Miss America, Broyles has made inclusion her mission and message.
“Inclusion is having a seat at the table and being an active member of that conversation and being heard,” comments Broyles. “It is not just about bringing in a person with a disability, not just about bringing in a person of color, or bringing in a person with a different background – – it is sincerely listening to their input. Inclusion is hearing input from people with so many different backgrounds, which ultimately enriches the workforce and makes our communities a more enriched place.”
Broyles is very familiar with The Arc for people with disabilities, and was excited to visit another Arc program – Desert Arc in Palm Desert. “In Alaska, we have The Arc of Anchorage where my brother has been attending. I was so excited to visit Desert Arc, due to my platform. It was wonderful to tour all the different programs and services Desert Arc offers, and to learn about how the organization’s work has been so successful enhancing the quality of life and creating opportunities for people with disabilities.”
Arriving at Desert Arc, Broyles was greeted by cheering Desert Arc clients, holding up hand-crafted banners and signs welcoming her. After spending time with many Desert Arc clients, Broyles was able to also visit virtually with additional clients which she thoroughly enjoyed.
“She is the first person from the State of Alaska to hold this title, and it is an interesting coincidence that Desert Arc was founded in 1959 , when Alasla became a State,” said Ricard Balocco, President/CEO of Desert Arc. “Miss America, thank YOU for visiting Desert Arc today! On behalf of all our clients, staff, and Board of Directors, we would like to present you with this “thank you” gift, a stunning crystal shining star memento, in great appreciation for championing our cause in service to people with disabilities.”
Broyles has a deep, long-standing relationship with programs supporting people with disabilities. Her older brother, now 22, became a Special Olympics athlete at the age of 7. Emma and her younger brother would take Brendan a couple of times a week for track-and-field practice while growing up. The Special Olympics athletes became her community growing up, so she learned how to advocate for those with disabilities, and how they could advocate for themselves.
“My mom serves on the Governor’s Council for Disabilities and Special Education in Alaska. This inspired me to do what I could to spread the word of inclusion through Special Olympics.”
Broyles currently serves as Celebrity Ambassador for Special Olympics. When her reign as Miss America ends, Broyles plans to continue her advocacy for inclusivity and for people with disabilities. She will continue working with Special Olympics and serving as a Celebrity Ambassador. One day she hopes to provide her dermatological services free to the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program, which offers free medical services to these athletes.
While keeping busy representing Miss America, sometimes traveling over 20,000 miles a month attending events, Broyles is a student studying Biomedical Sciences and Vocal Performances at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University.
Emma Broyles is an impressive, poised, intelligent 21 year old role model for young women, who we will be hearing good things about in the future!