Stuttgart’s Cori Keller places among top 10 Miss Arkansas contestants

Cori Keller placed among the top Miss Arkansas 10 contestants in this year’s competition. (Photo courtesy of Cori Keller)

Stuttgart native Cori Keller was one of 45 contestants who competed this year for the title of Miss Arkansas. The weeklong scholarship pageant event was held at the Robinson Performance Hall in Little Rock from Saturday, June 11, to Sunday, June 18. Keller walked away from the competition with $3,650 in scholarship money by placing among the top 10 contestants.

“I was super elated to finish in the top 10. This was a huge competition pool and the best of the best in Arkansas. It is an honor to stand up there with them. I cannot wait to see what the future holds,” Keller said.

Keller, daughter of Lynn and Tracy Keller, qualified for the competition after being crowned as 2022 Miss White River, but this was not her first time competing on the Miss Arkansas stage. In college, Keller was crowned Miss Arkansas State University in 2018. She was then crowned Miss Historic Batesville, competing again in 2021.

“I think I was more prepared mentally to know what to expect throughout the week. It is a physical and mental toughness that you have to bring. Having the experience of knowing what to expect and what was going to happen really helped,” Keller said.

Keller studied before participating in Miss Arkansas, preparing for the interview portion of the competition. Contestants were questioned about various topics, including unemployment, health and fitness, and gun control.

“The onstage question is always such a curveball because you do not know what you are going to be asked. When I got that question, they asked me about what a modern woman is. I immediately just thought about the girls competing because we are modern women. We are people who are going to be making a difference, be the leaders of tomorrow, and break that glass ceiling for women everywhere,” Keller said.

Preparing for interview questions at Miss Arkansas has helped Keller move forward with her career. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in mass communication from Arkansas State University. Keller has worked as a reporter since 2020 and hopes to have a career related to sports media and sports production. She has started looking for full-time jobs.

“I recently had three interviews for three different jobs,” Keller said. “Knowing what I want out of a job, knowing how to speak confidently, and knowing how to be very articulate in an interview has been really handy in this process.”

Participating in pageantry has also given Keller an opportunity to help fight childhood food insecurity with her Everyday Kids Everyday Food platform. Keller chose her platform based on an experience she had as a student in Stuttgart.

Keller performed a self-choreographed routine to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”.

“I sat next to a boy every single day who was food insecure. I had no idea until I saw him going to get a bag of food one Friday afternoon after school. That really sparked a passion in me because it made me realize it is just everyday kids that need everyday food. It is not just a statistic,” Keller said.

In addition to choosing a platform, each Miss Arkansas contestant performs during the talent portion of the competition. Keller performed a tap dance to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.”

“I always love doing my talent. This year, I actually did a self-choreographed tap dance,” Keller said. “I really just decided that I was going to make this dance my own this year. It was just so much fun, and I had such a great time doing it.”

When asked if more pageants are in her future, Keller said she is unsure.

“My first priority is getting a job. I will make a decision once that happens,” Keller said.

She congratulated Ebony Mitchell, who was crowned on the last night of the contest.

“I am so extremely proud of our new Miss Arkansas,” Keller said. “We are actually really good friends, and I think she is going to be a great representative for our state.”

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