Beyrand, a graduate student in biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan (she finished her undergraduate degree there this past May) knows a thing or two about being inspired as a young person. Her mom, Dr. Marie Delewsky, is a foot doctor and Beyrand watched her excel in a field where there weren’t many women practicing at the time.
A family friend, who was a plastic surgeon, allowed Beyrand to shadow him when she was in high school — which gave her the idea to pursue a similar career path.
Beyrand hopes to become a craniofacial reconstruction surgeon, “focusing on people who have facial differences due to tumors, congenital defects, burns, and are in need of plastic surgery,” she said.
Race to Supply Techies, Scientists, and Mathematicians
Indeed, businesses and schools are adjusting to the ever-changing talent needs specifically as it relates to STEAM and the need for more young people trained in these areas.
“As the importance of having STEAM skills in business has greatly increased in recent years, so has the need for students to be prepared to have thriving STEAM careers and be leaders in this field,” said Brad Killaly, associate dean for full-time MBA programs at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
“Top MBA programs like Michigan Ross constantly evolve their curriculum to not only reflect the latest in research and business practice, but also to reflect and respond to what our society needs from business. With tech- and data-literate business leaders in high demand across industries, MBA programs are extremely well-placed to serve this need.”
Killaly added, “In recent years, leading MBA programs have added more curricular and co-curricular programming in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and data and business analytics.
Michigan Ross also recently launched a STEM-certified Specialization in Management Science, Design Thinking and Innovation and Data and Business Analytics concentrations, and “initiatives like our Fintech Initiative and Business+Tech initiative. These offerings seek to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and hands-on, real-world learning experience in STEAM-related topics, along with connecting them to the leaders in this growing field.”
“The future is headed toward electrification and digitalization,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHAuto and vice president, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives, Detroit Regional Chamber. “To remain relevant and competitive in the global economy, it is imperative that Michigan create a strong workforce with the high-tech knowledge and skills to keep pace.”
He added: “New jobs are being created every day and the opportunity is ours to foster and find the high-tech talent to fill them. If we don’t, that economic potential will go elsewhere. MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber are keenly aware of this challenge and focused on ensuring that students and new professionals are aware of, and have access to, the opportunities education and careers in STEAM fields present.”
Scholarships for Women
Beyrand grew up watching the Miss America contest on television and told me she has learned so much more about it since getting involved.
“It’s a scholarship program for young women,” she said. “They put much focus on the interview portion and talent competition. These are things I am very comfortable with.”
She got interested in competing when her mom suggested it after Beyrand graduated from high school “to earn some scholarship money,” she said, explaining how expensive her schooling would be with medical school and graduate programs needed to prepare her for a STEAM career.
Beyrand had just graduated from Detroit Country Day but was not able to participate in her local Miss Oakland County competition.
Years later, Beyrand said she saw an ad on Facebook for the same pageant. With different circumstances, and the encouragement of two co-workers (both former Miss Michigans — Stacey Heisler, 1993, and Heather Kendrick, 2017), Beyrand decided to go for it. The women are part of Nuclassica, a group of violinists who perform at area weddings, corporate events and fundraisers.
Beyrand entered Miss Oakland County in August 2021 and earned the chance to compete for Miss Michigan, where she received $11,250 in scholarship money for the win.
A win as Miss America comes with $50,000 in additional scholarship money. The Miss American organization, which celebrates its 101st anniversary this year, has awarded more than $5 million in cash scholarships and millions more in-kind contributions per year through national, state and local programs.
For the talent portion of the pageant, Beyrand, a classically trained violinist, played her violin while dancing.
Right now, she’s busy with her studies as she juggles performing duties of her title, working with Nuclassica and finding time for family and friends.
“I don’t have a typical week,” she said. “I deal with a time management battle most of the time.”
She been practicing her violin performance for the pageant and doing mock interviews as she prepares to leave Dec. 8 for Connecticut.
“I have a wardrobe sponsor, and sponsors for things like hair, nails and spray tan,” she said. “I’m also always looking for scholarships for girls for next year and beyond. It’s about giving back to the Miss Michigan Scholarship Program, who has given me so many incredible opportunities.”
She’s also been working with State Rep. Samantha Steckloff, D-Farmington Hills, a previous Miss Oakland County pageant winner. “We’re working on a bill to protect funding for the arts (in the state). We need to put more focus on arts, and the role of the arts in STEAM, which starts with protecting funding.”
I asked if she ever entertained the idea of participating in the Miss USA pageant.
“No, it’s a different system,” she said. “They are more focused on modeling and I am not. Miss America is about winning scholarships, professional development, and giving back to the community.”
“I’m also excited to break the stereotypes of beauty pageants,” she added. “Miss America is becoming much more modern. You are not judged on what you look like. There is no longer a swimsuit competition and have adapted the evening gown portion of competition to focus on on-stage interview rather than the gown.”
Did she relate to Sandra Bullock’s “Miss Congeniality? Bullock plays an FBI agent who becomes a beauty pageant contestant to find out who is trying to destroy the pageant and realizes, after mocking the event, that the pageant brings needed scholarships and encourages sisterhood.
“It was one of my favorite movies growing up,” Beyrand said. “It also resonates with Miss America,” she added. “We’re like-minded women with big ideas who want to change the world and make it better.”
On the heels of her two wins, I asked how she feels about the upcoming competition.
”I actually have a bit more nerves,” she said. “When I started, I didn’t have any expectations, so I just focused on doing my best. Now, I’m representing the state of Michigan, so I want to make both myself and my state proud.”