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Michaela McLean catches up with The Lakelander

What has your experience been like transitioning from being Miss Florida Citrus to becoming Miss Florida?

It was such an honor to represent my family’s heritage and roots as Miss Florida Citrus leading up to being crowned Miss Florida! I am an eighth generation Floridian and part of a family of fifth generation citrus growers! As Miss Florida Citrus, I had the unique privilege to meet citrus growers and industry leaders across the entire state. I was overwhelmed with the support and encouragement from the citrus community. The title of Miss Florida Citrus prepared, equipped, and launched me to be the very best Miss Florida I can be this year.

What was your experience competing in the Miss America competition? How was it different from previous competitions?

Competing and performing my lyrical dance at Miss America has been a dream of mine for several years. To wear “Florida” across my chest and stand on the national stage among 50 of the nation’s most driven, motivated, and accomplished young women was a moment I’ll never forget. My experience was equally challenging and exhilarating. This year, Miss America 2020 was held for the first time in December at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. Unlike past years, the competition highlighted candidates’ social impact initiatives and gave them more of an opportunity to share their heart and opinions on stage. I am happy to have placed in the Top 15 with women that I greatly admire and inspire to be more like.

What do you plan to do with the platform you’ve been given as Miss Florida?

The job of Miss Florida has opened up multiple opportunities that I never could have imagined. From filming a segment for the Discovery channel while wrestling a python in the Everglades to meeting with senators and representatives in Washington D.C., the job of Miss Florida has been an exhilarating ride. I wear several different hats and each job presents a new opportunity to make a difference. I am an ambassador and spokesperson for the Everglades Foundation, Advanced Recovery Systems, and my social impact initiative “Brave & Beautiful.” So far, I have visited 35+ schools across our state and traveled over 15,000 miles. I am so excited to use the remainder of my year of service to travel, speak, encourage, and equip more thousands of people to understand their true purpose and potential.