WATCH Miss Michigan Talk About Her State’s Water Crisis at the Miss American Pageant

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Emily Sioma is Miss Michigan — and also a newly minted hero to many of her fellow Michigan residents. At the opening of the Miss America pageant, each contestant had the chance to introduce herself. Most of the contestants talked about their studies, their work experience, and their interests.

But not Miss Michigan.

She walked up to the microphone, put her hands on her hips, and said, “From a state with 84% of the U.S. fresh water, but none for it’s residents to drink, I’m Miss Michigan Emily Sioma.”

You can watch the clip here:

Sioma’s introduction at the Miss American competition won her both praise and criticism on social media. One woman thanked her effusively, writing, “Your introduction tonight was absolutely spectacular. Thank you for representing our state truthfully and powerfully. You are the winner in my eyes, and I’m sure many others.”

But others felt that Sioma had needlessly insulted the state of Michigan. One woman wrote, sarcastically, that Sioma “used your 15 seconds on the national stage to cut on your State. Well done.”

Emily Sioma Says She’ll Probably Be Known as the ‘Edgy’ Miss Michigan

This is the third time that Emily Sioma has competed in the Miss Michigan pageant. She came close in 2015, and again she came close in 2016, winning the swimsuit competition. But in 2017, she decided to take the year off. She came back and won Miss Michigan in 2018 — which brought her to the Miss America pageant.

Sioma, 24, said she wants to work to empower women who have survived sexual assault. She is a survivor of sexual assault, and has spoken out extensively about the issue. Describing her goals as Miss Michigan, Sioma said, “I really want to share my story as a survivor of sexual assault and encourage other women to not feel shame and stigma about what’s happened to them, and men as well,” she said. “Not feel shame, not feel like they have to hide, but instead be proud of where they are in their journey to recovery.”

She has said she’d like to get a Master’s degree in either social work or in public health, and dreams of a career focusing on inspiring youth and empowering women.