As a child, Mary found her dreams in the sky. "I would look up at the clouds and make images of horses," said Shaw.
Today, Shaw doesn't have to look up to see her dreams--she's living them. On December 6th, after a week of intense competition in Las Vegas, the 20-year-old from Ogden, Utah, was crowned Miss Rodeo America 1998. Shaw, Miss Rodeo Utah 1997, topped a field of 34 other young women at the 43rd Miss Rodeo America Pageant. Shaw, dressed in all white with a sequined scarf, held her hand over her mouth in disbelief as she accepted a hug and the crown from outgoing Miss Rodeo America, MiQuel Holyoak. Though initially shocked at receiving the title, Shaw said she felt confident going into the competition.
"I've prepared for this all my life and suddenly this was it," she said. "I knew I just had to do my best and let the cards fall where they may."
The confident, relaxed attitude paid off. Besides earning the coveted Miss Rodeo America title, Shaw with her warm smile, outgoing nature and striking appearance also took top honors in the pageant's personality, appearance and photogenic categories. The title means Shaw will spend 1998 traveling the continent as a representative of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Miss Rodeo America program. Many of her duties will be carried out on horseback at professional rodeos from coast to coast, while others will include public speaking and television appearances.
"It will be a lot of hard work and a busy year, but very enjoyable at the same time," she said, just days after earning the title. "I want to represent professional rodeo to the best of my ability and give back to our sport what it has given to me. The people in rodeo are so real--the cowboys, the sponsors--everybody. I want to help people who don't know about rodeo understand the sport."
In addition to her passion for horses and the Western lifestyle, Shaw's interests lie close to home. "I love spending time with my family," said Shaw, who has four younger sisters and one younger brother. Mary is also an honor student and a junior at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where she is majoring in Technical Sales. Her long-term goals include earning her Master's degree in Business Administration. For now, however, Shaw is concentrating on her reign as Miss Rodeo America. "I want to enjoy every moment of it, because I'll never have this opportunity again."