UCA students, alums represent UCA at 2023 Miss Arkansas competition

By: Thomas Staab
Office of Media Relations

Mattison Gafner

Hannah Hagerman

Hannah Hagerman

Nia Rene'e Kelley

Nia Rene’e Kelley

Jada Simpson

Jada Simpson

University of Central Arkansas students and former holders of the Miss UCA title will be among the 47 contestants who are competing for the title of 2023 Miss Arkansas this week.

Contestants arrived in Little Rock on Saturday, June 3, and preliminary competition begins Wednesday, June 6. The contestants will participate in four rounds of preliminary competition — interview, on-stage conversation, evening gown and talent —  in hopes of advancing to the final night of competition on Saturday, June 10.

Mattison Gafner of Conway, Hannah Hagerman of Sherwood, Nia Rene’e Kelley of North Little Rock and Jada Simpson of Maumelle will all carry the UCA Bear spirit with them as they compete at the Robinson Center in Little Rock to become the next Miss Arkansas. 

Ebony Mitchell

Ebony Mitchell

Miss Arkansas 2022 Ebony Mitchell will crown the next titleholder at the conclusion of competition. Mitchell graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing in 2019. Mitchell was crowned the 84th Miss Arkansas, beating out 44 other candidates last year. Prior to earning the crowning achievement of the Miss Arkansas title, Mitchell held the title of Miss UCA 2019.

Gafner, 21, is Miss City of Colleges and a senior at UCA. She is double majoring in public relations and journalism. Her talent is a vocal performance to “Never Enough.” Gafner’s community service initiative is “Supporting First Responders; Our Heroes.”

Hagerman, 25, is Miss Spirit of Arkansas and a former Miss UCA from 2020. For the talent round, she will perform a tap dance to the tune of “Dancin’ Fool.” Hagerman’s community service initiative is “Arts for All: Equal Access and Opportunity to Arts Education.”

Kelley, 19, is Miss Greater Jacksonville. She is a junior at UCA pursuing a degree in vocal performance. Kelley served Miss UCA 2022. For the talent round, Kelley will give a vocal performance of “Queen of the Night” Aria by Mozart from “The Magic Flute.” Kelley’s community service initiative is “The Power of the Arts.”

Simpson, 19, is the current Miss UCA, and she is a junior majoring in elementary education. Her talent is a tap dance to “Where Have You Been” by Rihanna. Simpson’s community service initiative is “Be a H.E.R.O. and Just Say NO to Bullying.”

Miss Arkansas is an official preliminary to the Miss America competition. Learn more about the Miss Arkansas competition at www.missarkansas.org.