Kelly Koch is determined to be a child life specialist. When she’s not studying or volunteering as Miss Iowa, she enjoys getting involved in her sorority, going on walks, and working out at State Gym.
Miss America Organization leads Kelly to her career path
As a freshman, Kelly joined the Iowa State dance team, became a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, and started to immerse herself in the ISU culture. But finding her major didn’t come until a year later, while competing for Miss Iowa in the summer of 2015.
During Miss Iowa week, all the contestants took a trip to a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, which is the Miss America Organization’s national platform. Kelly and her fellow competitors learned about child life specialists and got to visit some of the kids in the hospital.
After listening to the specialists, speaking with the kids, and allowing a young girl to paint her nails, Kelly knew she wanted to spend her life helping them.
“After interacting with her, the child life specialists, and seeing how brave all the children were – I decided to change my major and do everything I could to be the best child life specialist I could be,” she said.
Kelly originally wanted to be a teacher, but she said she loves providing children methods of coping with hospitalization, demonstrating age-appropriate techniques for preparations of procedures, being the positive distraction to young patients, and giving families guidance and support.
“It’s never the same day twice,” she said. “The families you get to help and the lives you get to touch is just remarkable.”
Currently, Kelly reigns as Miss Iowa 2016-17, so she attends classes part-time. But that isn’t stopping her from achieving her goals, which she said wouldn’t be possible without the Miss America organization.
“If it wasn’t for MAO, I probably never would’ve stepped foot in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful to them for that and all the experiences they’ve given me as Miss Iowa.”