Emma Broyles becomes first reigning Miss America to visit the Coachella Valley

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 sponsored by Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center, Desert Family Medical Center, and Koffi Coffee. Accompanied by Dr. Kimberley Yang, Broyles’ many stops included visits to St. Theresa’s Catholic School, Desert Arc and Koffi Coffee. She was also the “Guest Celebrity” for a “Day of Beauty” at Contour Dermatology.

Broyles is the first Korean American to hold the title of Miss America. She is also the first Miss Alaska to be crowned Miss America. 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 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 19, and won the Miss America title at 20.

(from left to right): Richard Balocco, President/CEO of Desert Arc, Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles, Nancy Singer, Desert Arc Board member & Board Secretary, and Doug Watson, Desert Arc Board member.
(from left to right): Richard Balocco, President/CEO of Desert Arc, Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles, Nancy Singer, Desert Arc Board member & Board Secretary, and Doug Watson, Desert Arc Board member.

Broyles learned 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,” said 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 in enhancing the quality of life and creating opportunities for people with disabilities.”

Members of the Desert Arc Yucca Valley Team (left to right) Christian B., Paula H., Dianna Anderson, Asst. Dir. of Desert Arc's Yucca Valley Operations, Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles, Kristin B., and Brandon A.
Members of the Desert Arc Yucca Valley Team (left to right) Christian B., Paula H., Dianna Anderson, Asst. Dir. of Desert Arc's Yucca Valley Operations, Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles, Kristin B., and Brandon A.

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 Alaska became a state,” said Ricard Balocco, president/CEO of Desert Arc. Balocco presented Broyles with a crystal shining star memento, and expressed great appreciation to her “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 age 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, 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,” she said.

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. 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 event — Broyles is studying biomedical sciences and vocal performances at Arizona State University.

For more information on Desert Arc, call 760-346-1611 or visit desertarc.org.

Madeline Zuckerman is owner and president of M. Zuckerman Marketing & Public Relations Inc., a strategic marketing, branding, public relations and special events firm with offices in Rancho Mirage and Newport Beach, California. Her clients have included South Coast Plaza, Pacific Symphony and Tiffany & Co. in Orange County and Desert Arc, Olive Crest and Mama's House here in the desert. She is a Founder of McCallum Theatre and has been a guest reporter with The Desert Sun for the past 14 years.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles makes meaningful visit to Desert Arc