Former Volleyball Player Prepares For Big Stage

If the six months since Mekayla Diehl, '11, was crowned Miss Indiana USA have been a whirlwind, she can only imagine what her lifestyle will be like if she successfully completes her quest of becoming the first Native American and Hoosier to be proclaimed Miss USA.

That's why the former Albion College communication studies major, Delta Gamma and dance team member, and varsity volleyball student-athlete took time to make sure her life was in balance before embarking on a 19-day trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which culminates with the pageant. The Miss USA competition will be broadcast live June 8 from 8-11 p.m. ET on NBC.

"I'm active with my Ottawa tribe and I'm on my Native American reservation taking lessons with the medicine man trying to level my plate," Diehl said during a recent phone interview shortly before her trip south. "I need to make sure all four elements—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual—are balanced.

"I'm listening to my heart and body and getting lots of sleep, and that takes loving people around me," she added. "I'm trying to prepare mentally, win or lose. It will be a big adjustment if I win. I'll move to New York City and live across the street from Miss Universe headquarters. My life will be turned upside-down, but in a good way."

Diehl worked for a year as a radio DJ after graduating from Albion, but she found her true calling when she began working as a manager at a bridal and prom dress shop.

Since being crowned Miss Indiana in November, Diehl has continued to work in the fashion industry in addition to touring the state as an advocate for Bashor Children's Home, a Goshen-based nonprofit child welfare agency that provides services to troubled children and their families, and St. Margaret's House, a South Bend organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children affected by abuse.

Bashor's mission—"Help for today, hope for tomorrow"—resonated with Diehl, a survivor of sexual abuse. Her goal is to motivate children to strive to achieve their dreams no matter what their past was like.

"I enjoy meeting and connecting with people from different walks of life," Diehl said. "I'm a strong believer in interacting with people and not sitting behind a table. I want people to meet me, to shake my hand."

More: Mekayla's profile on the Miss USA website