ISU student crowned Miss Metro in Miss Greater Des Moines Pageant

Claire Norton

Never do anything half-heartedly, said Kelly Koch, sophomore in early childhood education.

“If [people] show true passion for themselves, they’ll show passion for everything else in their life,” Koch said.

Koch won the Miss Metro crown earlier this month to go with other crowns she received in the Miss Greater Des Moines Scholarship Pageant.

The Miss Greater Des Moines Pageant is an official preliminary to the Miss Iowa and Miss America scholarship pageants.

Koch began her involvement with pageants in late fall of 2014.

Amy McAreavy, former executive director for the Miss Iowa Pageant, as well as a high school friend of Kelly’s mother, offered to help guide Kelly through the process before her first pageant in October — Miss Muscatine — where Kelly won “first runner-up.”

McAreavy wanted to be clear that she is not Koch’s coach. 

“I’m simply just a friend that helps,” McAreavy said.

McAreavy will not be guiding Koch through the Miss Iowa pageant. She will be mentored and guided by an executive from the Miss Greater Des Moines Pageant.

McAreavy said she and Koch’s training was usually an informal affair.

“We spend a lot of time on interview, so really giving her the opportunity to practice was most of it,” McAreavy said. “A lot of times we would just get on the phone and I would ask her questions and give her the opportunity to answer them.”

Koch discovered she wanted to do pageants after high school when she realized that she would no longer be able to perform as a soloist dancer. She wanted the opportunity to continue to perform.

“Dance is a big part of my life and that’s another reason why I wanted to do this,” Koch said. “After high school, you really don’t get to perform solos anymore. I wanted to do that more and I knew I could with the Miss America organization.”

Koch, like every other contestant, is required to take on a “platform” or a cause to advocate.

The platform she developed is called “BFF,” or “Be a Friendly Face.”

“Be a Friendly Face” strives to help prevent bullying within schools by teaching young children to understand what it means to truly be a friendly face.

Koch chose “Be a Friendly Face” not just because she is pursuing a degree in early childhood education, but because of her personal experiences.

“That’s why I want to go out to the schools and bring my platform because I was bullied as a teenager in high school,” Koch said.

She hopes that her efforts will also reflect “the four points of the crown”—Service, Style, Scholarship, and Success — a standard that the Miss America Organization devotes itself to.

Koch said “it’s not just a beauty pageant,” as the pageants have not only helped her confidence, but have also benefitted her studies.

Koch said she has gained tools from her pageant training in public speaking, writing and interviewing that she can apply toward her success in school.

In addition to the tools she can use in everyday studies, she was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to apply toward her education.

Rhonda Koch, Kelly’s mother, has been supporting Kelly’s love to perform throughout her life and her recent success in pageants is not the only thing her mother is proud of.

“I think the thing that amazes me the most with her is that she can stay on the dance team, be active in her sorority and keep a good grade point, and then decide all of a sudden, ‘oh, I’ll do this too,” Rhonda said.

With the Miss Iowa pageant approaching June 12, Koch plans to be hard at work. She will be devoting her time to practicing, maintaining her grades and involvement in activities at Iowa State.