Buchanan’s Schuhknecht wins preliminary talent award at Miss America

Published 4:41 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

ORLANDO, FLORIDA — A Buchanan native is making her presence known on one of the nation’s biggest stages.

Miss Michigan 2023 Maya Schuhknecht earned the Kawai Preliminary Talent Award Thursday night at the Miss America pageant over 51 contestants with her speed painting portrait of Michael Jackson.

“I was once told that my idea of speed painting for a talent was a bad idea,” Schuhknecht said in a social media post. “They told me I would never win a local title, or even step foot on the Miss Michigan stage. Well, last night I made history by winning the Kawai Preliminary Talent Award as a speed painter at Miss America.”

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.

The award earned the Michigan State graduate a $3,000 scholarship provided by Kawai Pianos. In a social media post, Schuhknecht said she intends to put the award toward her arts education.

“Art is my passion, hobby, career and therapy,” she said. “I had the time of my life sharing my love for the arts with you all near and far. I hope you all were inspired, entertained and had so much fun.”

The Miss America finals take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, January 14 on watchmissamerica.com

Schuhknecht is looking forward to keeping the momentum going into the finals.

“Miss America, I am so thankful for you and the opportunities you have given me,” she said. “I truly shared my heart and spirit with the world last night. Not only did the girl who was told that she couldn’t do it, do it, but she did it with paint on her hands. Here’s to making history. Let’s keep going.”