I am Michelle McDowell, and this year I’m representing the Michigan Great Lakes Quarter Horse Association. I am from a small town in Michigan called Wayland, which is situated halfway between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Wayland is a small rural hometown with a population of approximately 4,000 people, which hosts many great community events to support local business. The people of Wayland are neighborly and kind which was the best way for anyone to grow up. I knew that I wanted to compete in the Queen Contest from the time I was twelve years old and was inspired when I met Queen candidates at my first All American Quarter Horse Congress. The candidates exemplified grace, intelligence, and true horsemanship. I am currently attending Grand Valley State University studying to be an elementary teacher, and working part time at a child care center and as a substitute teacher. My favorite horse memory is competing as a collegiate rider at the IHSA Nationals in 2016, where I garnered the high score in both the horsemanship and reining portions of the competition to win the AQHA High Point Rider award. One interesting fact about myself: I was invited to compete at both the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show and the NRHA Derby in their collegiate riding competitions, giving me the rare opportunity to draw a world class horse to ride at these amazing events!