For Mallory Rivard, winning the 2019 Miss Michigan title Saturday was a triumph of grit and the culmination of a lifetime of hard work dedicated to serving her community.
While the Saginaw Valley State University alumna and graduate student is enjoying the crown secured at the June 15 pageant, her work is far from finished, she said. Rivard is readying for a year representing the state while preparing for an approaching competition that could lead to her representing a much, much larger community. As Miss Michigan, she will be one of 50 women vying for the 2020 Miss America title later this year.
“I will definitely be living my life to the fullest after this,” Rivard said. “It’s already been a whirlwind since Saturday, so I’ve been trying to soak in all of this experience. It’s all so exciting.”
The Miss Michigan title is one of several dreams-come-true for Rivard in recent years. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and childhood education from SVSU in 2017, she began work as a teacher for Bay City Public Schools. Today, she enjoys educating first-grade students at MacGregor Elementary School in her hometown of Bay City.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher ever since the third grade,” said Rivard, now pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education at SVSU. “I’m really passionate about educating young people.”
She applied that passion for education to her pageant platform campaign, which focused on promoting reading to children. As Miss Michigan, Rivard plans to visit classrooms across the state and speak to parents on how best to improve childhood literacy.
“The earlier we introduce kids to the joys of reading, the more they will flourish and succeed,” she said.
Rivard understands the power of childhood influences. She participated in her first pageant — the Miss Bay County Princess competition — at the age of five, when her on-stage talent involved dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe.”
“I remember meeting Miss Bay County there,” said Rivard, now 24. “I thought to myself, ‘I want to do that.’”
And she did. Rivard was crowned Miss Bay County in 2015. It was one of seven consecutive local or regional pageants she earned on her way to advancing to the Miss Michigan competition, hosted each year in Muskegon. This year, she competed there as Miss Great Lakes Bay.
Rivard nearly received the Miss Michigan crown a number of times before this year, finishing as the first runner-up in both 2017 and 2018. As first runner-up, Rivard earned $5,000 scholarships both years from the Miss Michigan organization. As the competition’s victor this year, she will receive $12,000 in scholarship support for her college education.
An even larger victory could be ahead. The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is affiliated with the Miss America Organization. Rivard will compete for the national title along with the women representing the other 49 states. The event's date and venue have not yet been announced.
“I’ve dreamed of this moment for so long,” she said. “I’m very thankful for all the people who have supported me through the years: Family, friends, people at SVSU. I couldn’t be more grateful or more blessed.”