Speech communication major wins Miss Amazing Pageant’s ‘miss division’

Senior speech communication major Tiffany Eickhoff is amazing – Miss Amazing, to be exact.

Senior speech communication major Tiffany Eickhoff recently won the 'miss division' of the first national Miss Amazing Pageant. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Eickhoff

Eickhoff, who has cerebral palsy, recently won the “miss division” of the first national Miss Amazing Beauty Pageant – a pageant for women and girls with disabilities. She was also featured on the “Today” Show breaking a wooden board as part of the competition and will soon be a published co-author for an accessibility study she completed with speech communication professor Duff Wrobbel.

Eickhoff, of St. Louis, also won for her division at the state level in March. The Miss Amazing Pageant, according to Eickhoff, is an organization that “helps empower girls and women with disabilities.”

“It’s based around pageantry, but the point is to empower girls and women and get them involved in their communities and raise self-esteem and build confidence,” Eickhoff said.

The pageant consisted of an interview, a non-scored talent show and a runway walk in an evening gown. Eickhoff said her favorite part was the evening wear, for which each contestant had a male escort her on the stage.

“At the state and national pageant I had a guy push me on stage, and each time they were out there with me and I was just looking at the judges, smiling, waving,” Eickhoff said. “They wanted to see your personality come out, and they’re also looking at your dress as well.”

Eickhoff said she enjoyed the evening wear most because she loves “getting glammed up.”

“I’m the biggest girlie girl around, and at the state pageant we actually had to wear T-shirts during part of the time, but during the national pageant they had us wear our dress the whole time…,” Eickhoff said. “I really enjoyed it because it took me a long time to pick out my dress and it was gorgeous, but I’m just a girly girl and I love the glitz and the glam like every other person, every other normal girl, you know?”

The pageant experience as a whole, according to Eickhoff, was – no pun intended – amazing. Though she said she does not know what her duties on the state and national level will be, she will “take everything by the horns” and accept every opportunity presented to her.

Wrobbel said hearing that Eickhoff won the Miss Amazing Pageant’s “miss division” was not shocking at all.

“She is very tenacious. She’s very hard working. She’s got a great spirit and certainly I find her to be terrific to work with and all of that,” Wrobbel said. “So I’m not at all surprised that other people feel the same way.”

Featured on the “Today” Show

The “Today” Show was at the national pageant, held in Omaha, Neb., according to Eickhoff, and used a clip of Eickhoff breaking a wooden board during the talent-show competition in its coverage. She said seeing that footage on national television was surreal.

“I had done more martial arts, but I really wanted them to get the board breaking,” Eickhoff said. “That was real wood, real board. And several times before that I had broken fake boards, but that was only my second time ever breaking a real board. And I broke my first board practicing earlier that day…”

She has been involved in martial arts regularly since 2002, when she joined the group her neurologist, who also has cerebral palsy, created.

“I just wanted to try new things,” Eickhoff said. “You don’t see a lot disabled martial artists, and I’m just one of those people that loves to try new things. I’m currently a blue belt.”

Published co-author

Wrobbel said Eickhoff was his Undergraduate and Creative Activities (URCA) student, and Eickhoff, speech communication professor Sarah VanSlette and he created a research project that was “mostly Tiffany’s idea.”

“We videotaped [Tiffany] going around doing various, just ordinary things on campus in her wheelchair and then we got non-disabled people to do the same things… and tape them,” Wrobbel said.

Wrobbel and Eickhoff presented their findings at a conference at Texas A&M in February. When they returned, Wrobbel said they submitted an updated version of the research to the “Journal of Disability Studies” and it was accepted for publication. Eickhoff said she would like to write a book about her life and co-authoring the research paper with Wrobbel is “really reassuring” for that endeavor.

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