June 11, 2018


There comes a time when you realize that closing a chapter is a hopeful feeling, because you understand that there is so much more to the book than the pages you leave behind. While I look back on my chapter as Miss Wisconsin as one filled with love and purpose, with bright eyes I await the pages of my story that I have yet to write. In one year, I’ve grown in more ways than I can count. When I think of who I was on June 17, 2017 and compare her to who I am on June 16, 2018, I find myself looking at two different people with the same soul. This title and its responsibilities have shaped, molded, stretched, challenged and tested me more than I could’ve imagined, and it’s prepared me for just about anything that lies ahead.

My favorite memories from this year are because of the people that made them so special. From attending my first tractor pull in the western hillside of Wisconsin, to spending two weeks at Miss America on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, to sitting down with legislators to discuss my platform on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, my travels have taken me across the state and across the country. Some of the highlights from my year include: Celebrating the iconic Cranberry Festival in Warrens, traveling with Bess the Book Bus promoting literacy across the state, hosting Red Ribbon Week with Miss Illinois, judging the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, delivering the keynote speech at the DECA state conference and receiving a ‘Key to the City’ in my hometown of Waunakee.

I spent the year sharing my platform, Table Talk, with students, adults and legislators across our state this year, including sitting down for a meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan in the United States Capitol. The opportunity to convey my message of inclusivity, understanding and respectful communication has proven to be one of the most worthwhile ventures I’ve taken on.

I was also honored to serve as a statewide Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. This role opened my eyes to the harsh realities many children face and inspired me to advocate for them in the strongest way possible. I’m proud to conclude my year having raised just over $12,000 for patients and their families here in Wisconsin.

One of the greatest gifts I’ve gained this year is my Miss America sisterhood. Sharing this meaningful year with 50 strong, like-minded, supportive young women has in turn made me a stronger woman. I am particularly grateful for my comradery with the ‘Golden Girls’ (fellow contestants who were housed in the Golden Nugget Hotel with me during Miss America) and my ‘Citgo Girls’. My Miss America class has become my tribe, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I owe all that I am to my family, who mean more to me than anything in the world. They are my life’s greatest blessing and I am so appreciative to each of them for their endless support and encouragement. Each of you light up my life with love.

It is said that every good and perfect gift comes from above, and this year was absolutely one of those gifts. I am thankful to have been a part of something so much bigger than myself. Every speech I gave, every event I attended, and every person I met has left a lasting impression on me and has made me the Miss Wisconsin I am. I feel so fortunate to turn the page on the next chapter of my life with a beautiful collection of memories to take with me. I pass on this title truly humbled and changed for the better.

With so much love,

McKenna Collins

Miss Wisconsin 2017