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Miss Indiana: Breaking stereotypes before the start of the 96th Miss America competition



Indianapolis, Indiana – Due to her participation in the Miss America competition on Sunday night, a particular pediatric nurse will not be present at Riley Children’s Hospital on Sunday.

Cydney Bridges, a resident of Fort Wayne, entered three times before taking home the Miss Indiana title in 2023. She is now in Florida for the 96th Miss America contest.

“(This) just never felt like my reality,” she said. “I struggled to believe in myself. I have self-confidence issues, I struggled in school – I always saw Miss America, I watched it on TV, but never really had the dream to compete not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t think I could.”

As the youngest of four children with an absent father, Bridges claims she always knew she wanted to attend college to become a nurse, but it was difficult for her to consider that she might not be able to afford college.

“I’ll never forget when I was 16 years old, my mom said, ‘Hey, there’s no money for you to go to college.’ That was hard,” she said.

However, by competing in Miss America, she was able to secure multiple scholarships to assist with paying for her further study. “Being a Miss America contestant and winning over $20,000 in scholarships means the world to me, and I will always be grateful.”

With her societal effect, Bridges continues to train and uplift other young women around Fort Wayne and Indiana, according to a proclamation issued by the City of Fort Wayne in honor of her. According to Bridges, she is breaking down barriers in the state by being the first Hoosier to ever wear braids on stage.

“I wanted to be the girl in indiana that paved the way you don’t have to have straight hair,” she said.

Kaylee Shirrell, Bridges’ coworker at Riley, says she is confident that Bridges has the power to transform a great number of lives.

“She just has the potential to have such a positive impact on kids at Riley, especially with her message of overcoming obstacles. She can impact a lot of lives,” Shirrell said.

The new Miss America will receive scholarships totaling $60,000. According to Bridges, she wants to use the money she makes to train as a nurse practitioner and provide more extensive support to students.



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