MSU Graphic Design Graduate Crowned Miss Michigan 2023

Maya Schuhknecht, a Spring 2023 Michigan State University graduate with a BFA in Graphic Design, was crowned Miss Michigan 2023 on Saturday, June 17, at the Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon following a three-day competition.  

Photo of Maya Schuhknecht, being crowned Miss Michigan 2023 in front of the other contestants.
Maya Schuhknecht after being crowned Miss Michigan 2023 at the Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon.

Along with the crown, sash, and Miss Michigan 2023 title, Schuhknecht, who is from Buchanan, Michigan, received $10,000 in scholarships. She now will go on to compete in the 2024 Miss America Competition where 51 contestants will vie for the title of Miss America 2024 and more than $500,000 in college scholarships. The dates and location of the 2024 Miss America Competition have not been announced yet.   

“I am ready to get to work advocating, educating, and ensuring that everyone has access to the arts through my community service initiative, Art For All,” Schuhknecht said. “I can’t wait to share my talent, passion, and story with our beautiful state!” 

Schuhknecht competed for the Miss Michigan 2023 title as the reigning Miss Spirit of the State 2023, a title she earned in July 2022.  

Close-up Portrait of Miss Michigan 2023, Maya Schuhknecht in a green dress and graduation cap for her Michigan State Graduation Photos.
Maya Schuhknecht graduated from Michigan State University in Spring 2023 with a BFA in Graphic Design.

Altogether, 23 women from across the state of Michigan vied for the title of Miss Michigan 2023 with each contestant answering on-stage questions, speaking about their social impact initiative, and completing talent, health and fitness, and evening gown portions.  

During the competition, Schuhknecht shared her passion for the arts through her social impact initiative, “Art For All,” and her speed-painting talent. For her talent, she impressed the judges by painting a portrait upside down of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg within 90 seconds and made history by becoming the first ever speed painter to be crowned Miss Michigan.  

Chris Corneal, Associate Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, had Schuhknecht in class in which she created an identity design campaign for a fictional women’s hockey team, the Notorious RBGs, as an homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Maya Schuhknecht standing in front of her Senior BFA Exhibit design project, a uniform design for a fictional Women's Hockey Team.
Maya Schuhknecht with her identity design campaign, the Notorious RBGs, that was part of MSU’s Spring 2023 Graphic Design Senior BFA Exhibition.

“Her identity design campaign was a lot of fun, and it was focused, consistent, and complete, highlighting her talent and her wit,” Corneal said. “The hockey jersey and helmet that she designed for the identity (both with vinyl painstakingly applied by hand) were two of the most memorable items exhibited in the Graphic Design Senior BFA Exhibition last spring.

“Maya is a very talented and enthusiastic young designer. As one of my students, she consistently proved herself to be an example of upper-level dedication and creativity. She was a valuable asset to the Graphic Design program, both because of her own work and because of her engagement in critique discussions with her peers. I’m proud of her dedication and determination, and I’m excited about the platform her recent accomplishment has given her to advocate for the arts.”

Portrait of Miss Michigan 2023, Maya Schuhknecht in a green dress and graduation cap in front of the Spartan Statue on Michigan State University's Campus.
Maya Schuhknecht, Miss Michigan 2023 and Spring 2023 Michigan State University graduate.

Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Associate Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, also had Schuhknecht in class and said, “Maya was engaged and energetic in my class, always curious, and expressed her passion for art and design. It’s no surprise she was selected as 2023 Miss Michigan. I look forward to witnessing her achievements with this honor, very exciting!” 

This was Schuhknecht’s second time competing in the Miss Michigan pageant. In 2022, she competed as the winner of Miss Lighthouse Coast 2022. During the Miss Michigan 2022 competition, she speed-painted a portrait of Michael Jackson upside down, the video for which went viral on TikTok with more than 3 million views. 

Written by Kim Popiolek