When a coworker recommended Melissa Beyrand, ’22, enter the Miss Oakland County competition to potentially win scholarship money, she hesitated.
“I dragged my feet a little bit at the beginning, but the more I researched the organization, I thought it was a great way to earn some scholarship money and get into the community,” she said.
Beyrand, originally from Milford, Mich., won Miss Oakland County in August 2021 and took home the crown of Miss Michigan in June.
“I had no expectations going into it because it was something that was so new to me,” she said.
Beyrand, 22, won $11,250 in the Miss Michigan competition. She’ll use that money this fall as she returns to U-M to start a master’s degree program in biomedical engineering. She eventually wants to go to medical school to become a surgeon specializing in cranial facial reconstruction.
“I have a lot of school in my future and it’s very expensive,” she said. “Anything to help out is a positive thing for me.”
As an undergraduate, Beyrand was on the waterski team that won a national championship in 2021. She also played in the Campus Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Pops Orchestra.
Beyrand said the Miss America competition is different from a traditional beauty pageant. Instead of bathing suit competitions, it focuses on talent and interview questions. Beyrand played the violin for her talent and picked women in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) as her social initiative.
She said pushing for the arts as part of a STEM education is very important to her.
“I think that, for me, having arts education throughout elementary school, high school, and continuing into college was absolutely integral to my success in engineering,” she said. “I think that it’s so important to balance that creative mindset with the more analytical mind.”
During her reign as Miss Michigan, Beyrand said she’d like to talk to as many students as possible in promoting women in STEAM careers. That will include monthly panels with a diverse group of speakers.
“I just want to give some role models and mentors to younger women,” she said. “I know that was always important to me—seeing representation of people who are similar to me doing the things I wanted to do.”
Beynerd wasn’t the only U-M alum to win the crown of Miss Michigan. In a separate competition in May, Aria Hutchinson ’21, was crowned Miss Michigan USA. She’ll compete in the Miss USA pageant in November. Beyrand will compete for the title of Miss America in December.
Jeremy Carroll is content strategist for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.