Erica Myron will serve in the role until July of 2022.
UW Tacoma alumna Erica Myron, '20, has been crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA 2021-2022.
Myron is a member of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and is the first Native American woman to be named Ms. Wheelchair USA. “Being a Native American woman, I want Native American women to be seen,” she said. “Being in a wheelchair, I want people in wheelchairs to be seen. Ms. Wheelchair USA gives me the confidence to know that I have a crown on my head that I can use to open doors.”
Myron’s pageant life began in the 1990s. “It was a tribal royalty pageant,” she said. Myron started competing in the Ms. Wheelchair USA competition in 2009. “I think I came in second or third,” she said. “I came back the next year and placed the same then tried again in 2016 and still didn’t win.”
Undeterred, Myron decided to try one more time. In 2020 she entered and was named Ms. Wheelchair Washington which ensured her an invitation to the national competition. “I had a full year to put my platform together and to rehearse my speech,” she said. “I think I wrote my final speech maybe six months before the pageant and practiced it every single day.”
Myron will spend the next year advocating on behalf of different issues including building accessible playgrounds as well as increased representation in the media for people with mobility issues. “I gave my speech about painting your mental health with art,” she said. “Art can make you feel good if you’re feeling bad, if you’re feeling depressed or tired, just put paint on canvas and push it around.”
The Ms. Wheelchair USA competition began in 1997 with the belief that, “glamorous pageantry must be afforded to all women.” The event is held annually in Ohio and the winner is crowned following a week of activities that include presentations and round-robin interviews.
You can hear more from Erica in the most recent episode of the UW Tacoma podcast Paw'd Defiance.