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Pageant winner talks about her future as Miss Florida 2018

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

By Paul Catala

Posted Jul 2, 2018 at 10:40 PM


A native of Boca Raton and raised in Jupiter in Palm Beach County, Tyson’s victory garnered a cash scholarship totaling $20,000 and a prize package worth more than $25,000, which increased by $5,000 after a benefactor donated that amount Saturday.



LAKELAND — Taylor Tyson’s quest started with looking for performance options and being on stage. It ended Saturday night with a chance to play piano live before an audience of about 2,000, a crown on her head, $25,000 in scholarship money and a year of public appearances ahead of her.

But for now, Tyson, the newly crowned Miss Florida 2018, is absorbing the time in the spotlight and looking forward to what she said will be “showcasing our state — it has so much to offer.”

During an interview with The Ledger on Sunday morning in the lobby of The Terrace Hotel in downtown Lakeland, Tyson, 23 — who competed as Miss South Florida Fair — said she was looking forward to spending the year showing people Florida “has so much more to offer than just Disney World and the beach.” She said she acknowledges the great importance on Florida’s tourism economy but it’s not all that drives the Sunshine State.

“We have a thriving agriculture industry, booming, multicultural cities — I’d love to highlight off-the-beaten-path areas and everything Florida has to offer,” said Tyson, a summa cum laude political science graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

A native of Boca Raton and raised in Jupiter in Palm Beach County, Tyson’s victory garnered a cash scholarship totaling $20,000 and a prize package worth more than $25,000, which increased by $5,000 after a benefactor donated that amount Saturday.


Tyson, a law student at Stetson University in DeLand, will represent the state in the 2019 Miss America Pageant on Sept. 9 in Atlantic City. She will compete against other young women from across the United States for $55,000 in cash scholarships. The 2018 pageants consist of talent, interviews and evening wear.

The 2018 Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant marked Tyson’s third time competing. She was also in the pageant in 2015 and 2016, taking 2017 off to apply to law school, where she will utilize her Miss Florida scholarship money.

“I needed to get that part of my life on track and (2018) was the perfect time to try again as far as timing, maturity and having the experience it takes to understand the responsibilities of the job of being Miss Florida,” she said.

Some of those responsibilities will initially entail learning the specifics of the “job” of being Miss Florida, said Mary Sullivan, Miss Florida Pageant executive director. She said initially, Tyson will get acclimated to media interviews and begin filing paperwork to compete in Miss America.

Over the course of this week, Sullivan, who helped move the pageant to Lakeland in 2016, said Tyson will learn specifics about what the year will entail. She will also begin moving into an apartment in Lakeland and then plan strategies for work with her two outreach organizations: the Everglades Foundation and Orlando’s Advanced Recovery Systems addiction and mental health rehabilitation center. She will be a spokeswoman for both.

Sullivan said Miss Florida winners are provided a fully-furnished apartment in Lakeland to allow them to be centrally located for appearances and to network.

“There’s a lot involved to get Miss Florida ready to hit the road and go throughout the state. We want her to be prepared and feel comfortable dong these appearances,” said Sulllivan of Miami. “It will be an incredible year for her. We like to keep her busy every day, promoting and bringing awareness to our (Miss Florida) program.”

As for the future once her reign as Miss Florida and possibly more is over, Tyson said she hopes to become an attorney and legal analyst in broadcast journalism.

“Now, it’s the anticipation of competing for Miss America. I’m thrilled to be representing Florida in Miss America and I’m focused on getting prepared for that,” she said. “This has all been a dream of mine for so many years; it now feels sort of surreal that it’s actually happening.”

Tyson was one of five Miss Florida finalists, joining contestants from Orlando, Sarasota, Palm City and Tallahassee.

Miss Florida 2018, Taylor Tyson

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Phone: 352.516.1593

Address: P.O. Box 92865 Lakeland, FL 33804

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