Campus Profile: McKenna Collins

McKenna Collins is a senior at the University of Wisconsin–Madison studying communications and political science. She's a former professional ballerina from Waunakee and is this year's Miss Wisconsin.

When were you crowned Miss Wisconsin, and what does that title/job include?

I was crowned June 17, 2017. First and foremost, this job is about being a goodwill ambassador for the state, setting a positive example for students across the state and promoting education. I also serve as state ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and I fundraise and raise awareness for CMM children here in Wisconsin. Additionally, I spend my year advocating for my platform, Table Talk: Promoting Civil Discourse. I took a year of sabbatical from school to dedicate my life to this job, making appearances at fundraisers, charity events, private businesses, colleges and government offices every day!

Photo courtesy of McKenna Collins

Do you get scholarship money for winning/competing?

Yes! The Miss America Organization is actually the leading provider of scholarship for young women in the nation! This is the main reason I chose to compete in the first place. By winning Miss Wisconsin, I earned a $10,000 scholarship! I went on to earn an additional $3,000 scholarship at Miss America, which will allow me to finish my undergraduate education debt free. However, all contestants who compete for the title of Miss Wisconsin end up walking away with some amount of scholarship.

*Fun Fact: McKenna also has received the HEX U grant and other scholarships from the University!*

Photo courtesy of McKenna Collins


As Miss Wisconsin, McKenna had to opportunity to represent the “cheese state” at the nationally televised Miss America Pageant on Sept. 10. She competed in 5 categories: talent, on-stage question, evening gown, interview and lifestyle and fitness swimwear.


What is your favorite story/memory from your time at Miss America?

My time at Miss America consisted of days that started around 5 a.m. and went until 11 p.m. They were filled with rehearsals, filming, photo shoots, service work and press interviews. Every moment of my experience was such a whirlwind; it was some of the most incredible two weeks of my life. I met so many like-minded women who are just as talented and intelligent as they are kind and compassionate. One of my favorite experiences was our afternoon at the Atlantic City Mission Homeless Shelter. We spent a few hours serving meals, visiting with patrons and dancing with the kids there. It was an incredibly humbling experience that put the whole two weeks into perspective for me. Ultimately, being Miss Wisconsin or Miss America is about the lives you touch as a titleholder, the smiles you share and the kindness you pay forward.

Photo courtesy of McKenna Collins


What is your favorite appearance so far?

As Miss Wisconsin, I try my best to use my crown as a microphone to spread kindness, promote learning and be a voice for good. I brought that passion for good to Capitol Hill on Oct. 27, when I spent one week in Washington D.C. meeting with congressmen, senators and the Speaker of the House, to discuss my platform, Table Talk, which is all about promoting civil discourse in government, educational settings and daily life. I was especially excited for that week-long appearance because I was a former intern for Speaker Ryan. This marked my return to D.C. — only this time with a crown, a sash and a message for the country!


What is one thing you hope to do in your time as Miss Wisconsin?

I hope that people remember me as the Miss Wisconsin who was just as comfortable sitting on the floor talking with kindergarteners as she was addressing legislators in Congress.

Photo courtesy of McKenna Collins


What is your favorite part about being a Badger?

Family! You can't beat the shared sense of Badger pride that runs through the veins of current and former Badgers.


Fun fact: McKenna’s actual family is a part of the Badger family too! Her sister CoCo is a sophomore here at UW!


McKenna Collins is nothing short of amazing! The University and State are so lucky to have her as a representative. Follow her journey on Instagram or on Facebook.