Indiana State University Newsroom

Terre Haute freshman crowned Miss ISU 2012

November 11, 2011

A first-semester freshman will represent Indiana State University at Miss Indiana in June.

Terre Haute resident Ayanna Skyes, who is pursuing studies in psychology and music, has been selected as Miss Indiana State University 2012.

"What a great early birthday present," she said, adding she won her first title one week before her 20th birthday.

That was very different from her initial reaction on the stage of University Hall Oct. 29.

"I was beyond shocked. I couldn't move," she said. "And then the tears started."

Sykes, originally from Chicago, competed against 15 other women to claim the title. Miss ISU was only the second competition she had competed in.

"I met Maggi (Stephens) when I was competing at Miss Crossroads in 2010," Sykes recalled. "She was friendly, polite and very smart. I wanted to be like her."

Sykes set her sights on the Miss ISU crown from the moment she was admitted to Indiana State.

"It was Miss ISU, here I come," she said, beaming.

During her year of service, she will serve as an ambassador for the university, while balancing her studies, music lessons, work and her involvement in Spotlight Entertainment, Women's Chorus and the Ebony Majestic Choir.

But there's work to do before competing for the Miss Indiana crown. In the months leading up to June, Sykes will work on her interview skills, work out with a personal trainer and will develop her talent.

"I'm approaching it with the same drive and passion as Miss ISU," Sykes said.

Sykes is a vocalist and is taking lessons from music faculty member David Mannell. She credits a teacher at Chauncey Rose Middle School for encouraging her to get serious about music.

"I'd been singing for awhile, but he built me up and told me to embrace what I love," Sykes said. "It changed my world. Since then all I've done is music, music music. I can't picture music not being part of my life."

As she prepares for Miss Indiana this summer, Sykes will interact and raise money for the Children's Miracle Network and will raise awareness of her personal platform "Respecting Others Differences."

"No one should be judged or have to prove their worth," Sykes said. "Respect can be given, rather than earned. People need to just be themselves."

Sykes considers herself a very positive and patient role model and looks forward to interacting with children.

"I love children. I hope they can look up to me and see that they can achieve many things with dedication and hard work," she said.

Now she is focused on learning her new role.

"The reality of winning hasn't totally sunk in yet," she said. "It's a big responsibility and I'm excited to represent Indiana State."

She shares a common goal with the 32 ladies she'll compete against in June.

"I want to win," she said. "I want to bring the Miss Indiana crown back to Terre Haute."

The Miss ISU Scholarship Program began in 1958, and Sykes is the 29th winner, receiving a $1500 scholarship. She will now begin preparing for Miss Indiana, which takes place in June 2012 in Zionsville. The Miss Indiana Scholarship Program is a preliminary for the Miss America Scholarship Program.

Contact: Freda Luers, Union Board and Family Services, 812-237-3830 or

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, 812-237-3783 or