Buchanan’s Schuhknecht ready for Miss America Pageant

Published 5:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — The Miss Edwardsburg Youth Scholarship Pageant had a special helper last week.

Buchanan native Maya Schuhknecht, who was crowned Miss Michigan 2023 back in June, was on hand as a co-emcee and performed her speed-painting talent. She was happy to be back in southwest Michigan to enjoy the pageant experience.

“I thought it was great and the community of Edwardsburg has always had a great program,” she said. “Being able to be involved today was super special. Each and every one of the kids who competed tonight were just phenomenal. It’s a hard job for the judges but the girls that had this experience today will always take that with them so I’m very happy for them. I was glad I could be a part of it as well.”

A Spring 2023 Michigan State University graduate with a BFA in Graphic Design, Schuhknecht competed for the Miss Michigan 2023 title as the reigning Miss Spirit of the State 2023, a title she earned in July 2022. Schuhknecht was crowned Miss Spirit of Blossomtime in 2019 as a Buchanan High School senior. 

For Schuhknecht, the past six months have been action-packed.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “I just took off running; I’ve been all over the state. It’s really cool because here you’re representing Southwest Michigan and I’m representing Southwest Michigan nationally. I’ve been doing a lot of community service within our area but also throughout the entire state.”

Schuhknecht has also had the opportunity to travel to other states including Wisconsin and Minnesota. She thanked the Buchanan community for helping to shape her into who she is today.

“The sense of family within that community is crazy,” she said. “They were voted ‘Nicest town in America’ a few years ago and that really is a true statement and a testament to how amazing the community is. They’ve supported me and loved me through every single stage in my life – my highest of highs, my lowest of lows – they have just been right there for me.”

Schuhknecht fondly remembers the day she first returned home after being crowned Miss Michigan.

“They all lined the streets congratulating me,” she said. “I am really thankful for them and they’ve definitely been my backbone in this whole experience.”

Next month, Schuhknecht will compete in the Miss America Pageant Jan. 6-14, 2024 at the Walt Disney Theater in Orlando. She looks forward to representing Michigan on the national stage.

“I’m going to have a good time,” she said. “I really want to represent my state well. I can control how I treat people and I’m just so looking forward to the opportunity to go, have a good time and enjoy the experience. It’s a great bonus to being Miss Michigan so I’m excited to do that on the national stage.”