Kelsey Craft never saw herself as a beauty pageant contestant but instead as a health care professional and recent college graduate.
“I wasn’t cut out for pageants,” Craft said. “I wasn’t what they’re looking for whether it be looks or personality or whatever.”
After applying in November for the Miss Idaho USA pageant, Craft didn’t hear anything from the board until March. She was selected to represent both the City of Moscow and the University of Idaho as an official contestant in competition.
On Nov. 1 and 2 in Nampa, Idaho Craft will be competing in the Miss Idaho USA pageant as Miss Moscow USA. It will be a two day pageant that includes three main categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview. Craft said she is excited to represent Moscow in the competition. She will compete against 30 other women from across Idaho. Craft said if she wins the state title it will open up many opportunities for her to give back to her community and will also open up doors for her career.
Craft graduated last May from the University of Idaho with a degree in exercise science and health and a GPA of 3.91. Craft said she is hoping the pageant will teach her interview skills, how to articulate who she is as a person and how to pose herself as a confident character.
All these skills, Craft said, will be beneficial as she applies for graduate schools across the country.
Craft grew up in southwest Washington. She admitted that after moving to Moscow she barely visited home and she claims Moscow to be her hometown.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot here like I did growing up in Washington,” Craft said. “I went to school here, I live here, I work here. I consider Moscow a home.”
In addition to representing Moscow and UI in the pageant, Craft said she is also hoping to create an avenue for her advocacy work.
“I am really passionate about mental health awareness,” Craft said. “Just being in health care I think sometimes it gets ignored…it’s one of the aspects of wellness that people overlook sometimes … and so in my degree I’ve got to work a lot with mental health patients. I became passionate about it and I decided I wanted this stigma of mental health to go away.”
Craft said she also is a passionate advocate of local education and is a supporter of the Don’t Fail Idaho campaign. She explained that the campaign is an education awareness program. This organization ranked Idaho as number 48 out of 50 states in education.
“Only one out of 10 students of our students are going to graduate with a degree, over 60 percent of fourth and fifth graders aren’t proficient in math and reading,” Craft said. “With getting my degree, I’ve seen what opportunities that has opened up for me and I really want to focus on education.”
Craft also hopes to someday give back to UI.
“I would like to give back financially to the University,” Craft said. “They gave me a lot of scholarships that helped me get my education … I would hope that in the future I can donate to somebody that maybe wants to go into health care.”
Until the pageant, Craft said she is currently working at Gritman Medical Center in the Family Birthing Branch as a certified nursing assistant. She is also applying for six different master’s programs across the country while preparing for competition.
If Craft wins the state title, she says she will be attending events and sponsoring her platforms for mental health awareness and education in Idaho.
“I think compassion would be the trait I want people to see in me,” Craft said. “I think when people get stressed over priorities they forget about the people around them. Working in healthcare, I’ve learned how precious life is and that people are important.”
Danielle Wiley can be reached at email@example.com