Job title: 2023 Miss Arkansas
Age: 25 | Higher Education: Arkansas State University
Winning the title of Miss Arkansas 2023 was a childhood dream come true for Stuttgart native Cori Keller. The Arkansas State University grad began her journey with the organization at 9 years old in the Diamond State Princess Program, where she was mentored by fellow pageant contestants who exemplified strong, confident women.
“Growing up, my dance teacher was Miss Arkansas, and I always admired her,” Cori said. “I saw how [Miss Arkansas competitors] went on to be outstanding professionals. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be poised, confident and a leader like the women I watched.”
Winning a crown of her own didn’t come without challenges. Before the 2023 competition, Cori’s dad was admitted to the ICU due to complications from open heart surgery. Still, she pushed through.
“This was very challenging but showed that I am capable of more than I thought,” Cori said.
Her perseverance paid off when she won the title of Miss Arkansas 2023. She walked away with $33,000 in scholarships and $75,000 in awards, wardrobe, transportation and gifts. The scholarships paid for her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in mass communications. And she said even if you don’t compete in Miss Arkansas, there are scholarships at every pageant level. Not to mention, endless non-monetary benefits.
“I have gained so many skills that have benefited me professionally and personally,” Cori said. “It has been monumental [professionally]. I always say that being Miss Arkansas is the best networking opportunity anyone could ever ask for! The skills and connections one can gain through this organization are invaluable.”
Upon being crowned, Cori immediately jumped into training for the Miss America competition and is traveling the state to spread awareness about her community service initiative—Feeding the Future: Collaborative Solutions for Hunger.
“Pageants are often viewed as superficial,” Cori said. “However, this organization pushes women to step out of their comfort zone, excel academically and serve their communities…it gives women the opportunity to be leaders and be mentored by other strong women.”
Though Cori said she’s not sure what the future holds beyond pageants, she knows one thing for sure: “I want to continue to serve my community and be a leader for the next generation. I want to...share positivity and kindness.”