The Upbeat

Newly crowned Miss Iowa hopes to advocate for people with disabilities

The Upbeat

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Miss Iowa Nicole Kelly (MissIowa.com)

Miss Iowa Nicole Kelly (MissIowa.com)

Nicole Kelly, the newly crowned Miss Iowa, plans to use her title to help advocate for people with disabilities, reports the DesMoines Register.

Kelly, 23, was born without her left forearm, according to her biography at MissIowa.com (note: site has been intermittently down). Photos can be viewed at the Miss Iowa Facebook page.

After winning the title, Kelly spoke with CBS-4 News. "It was shocking and overwhelming—just like that your life changes," she said.

"As I grew up I learned to counterbalance the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give into 'no,'" Kelly wrote on the pageant site. "This means that I tried everything. From baseball, to dance, to diving—there's nothing I would not try. I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare: the stage."

According to Kelly's biography, she's currently studying directing and theater management at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She hopes to work on Broadway.

"If you would have told me a year ago that 'pageant queen' was in my future I would have laughed," she wrote. "Giving voice to a platform is a great honor and I am excited to continue my adventure of speaking out and touching lives."

Kelly will compete in the Miss America pageant on Sept. 15 in Atlantic City, N.J.

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