Saturday, June 29, will be a day that Ball State University graduate Kalyn Melham, ’23 MS ’24, remembers for the rest of her life.

After a week of arduous competition in the 83rd annual Miss Indiana pageant, Ms. Melham stood on stage at the STAR Bank Performing Arts Center in Zionsville, Ind., waiting for her moment.

With the anticipation rising and the building completely quiet, the judges declared their decision: “The new Miss Indiana is . . . Kalyn Melham!”

“It was a wonderful feeling,” Ms. Melham said as she accepted the crown.

It was this moment that Ms. Melham had been working toward the last half-decade.

“It was my second time competing at Miss Indiana, and I wanted to go for it. I wanted this title,” she said. “I interviewed for it and did everything I could to prepare, so each time I went into the top 11 and then the top five, I just reminded myself that you are meant to be here, and you’re serving a purpose.”

A Muncie native, Ms. Melham earned the right to compete after capturing Miss Southern Heartland honors. By winning the state pageant, she earned $11,000 in scholarships and the chance to go for the title of Miss America in January.

No stranger to the bright lights, Ms. Melham performed “They Just Keep Moving The Line” from the musical SMASH, something she had done before at Ball State to help secure the crown.

“I’ve done a lot of singing on campus before,” she said. “I just love performing.”

Equally, if not more, impressive than her talents on stage was her commitment to service.

During the week, Ms. Melham discussed her service initiative, Advocating for Change through Theater (ACT).

ACT was founded in 2019 when Ms. Melham was at a play at Muncie Civic Theater. She invited audience members to bring a can of food to each performance. After 13 plays, she helped accumulate over 200 pounds of food for Blood ‘n’ Fire Ministries, a door-to-door ministry that provides weekly outreach and serves meals to those in need.

“It made me realize that we can use theater as a tool not just to have fun but also to serve charities in need across the entire world,” Ms. Melham said. “I’ve had cabarets for Riley Children’s Hospital and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Muncie, and I plan to continue to collaborate with theaters across the entire state of Indiana.”

Guided by the spirit of Beneficence, Ms. Melham plans to use her platform to help Hoosiers in any way she can as she prepares for the Miss America competition, including encouraging residents to vote in the upcoming election.

“I plan to put everything I have into being Miss Indiana—make that my absolute priority—and fully serve the state,” she said. “After the Miss America pageant, I think the next steps will be to see how I can use my experience as Miss Indiana, along with my degrees, and find what’s next.”

With a bachelor’s degree in English and professional writing and a master’s degree in information and communication sciences, Ms. Melham will continue to achieve great things as she pursues her postgraduate degrees.

And she’ll do so with fond memories of her time as a Cardinal.

“I stepped onto this stage with all the tools I’ve gotten from Ball State and the wonderful mentors that have helped me here through the Digital Corps, the English department, and the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) program. All the guidance I’ve received has shaped me into the woman I think the new age of pageantry is looking for. I appreciate that wholeheartedly.”

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