DES MOINES, Iowa – More than 20 women participated in the Miss Iowa USA 2022 Pageant over the weekend. Among them was Isiana Carr-Coleman.

“Amazing, just amazing,” said Isiana Carr-Coleman’s adoptive parents, Jim Brandt and Erica Swanson.

“Like she’s my little sister, but I mean, to be honest, she’s my hero,” said Carr-Coleman’s older brother Trey Jones.

The Miss Iowa USA 2022 pageant was Carr-Coleman’s second pageant that she has competed in; however, she would have never dreamed of being on a pageant stage. “I grew up in foster care [around] the age of seven,” said Carr-Coleman.

“I love my biological family a lot, but there were situations where they [couldn’t] support us. I was raised in Colorado. I did get adopted, but I ended up leaving my adoptive family. It just wasn’t a good match. And there were things that happened that were kind of unfortunate.”

Fortunately, she met her high school guidance counselor Erica Swanson.

“You know, she really adopted us,” said Swanson. “She was in a situation where it was just extremely bad and uncomfortable. And I was her high school guidance counselor, and we spent a lot of time together. And it just turned out that it [would] be a better thing for her if she came live with us.”

Upon moving in with Swanson and her husband, Jim Brandt, they encouraged Carr-Coleman to go to Wartburg College, where she majors in Computer Science with minors in math and data analytics. Carr-Coleman’s platform was STEM.

“Yes, I am an advocate for women and minorities in STEM computer science in particular, because it’s the only field in the STEM where the number of women is declining. It’s even worse for minorities,” said Carr-Coleman.

Her older brother, Trey Jones, whom she met in 2018, attended the pageant to cheer on his singer. “I didn’t even know she existed until a few years ago. So I didn’t get to grow up with her,” said Jones. “She turned out to be the awesome woman.”

From foster care to the pageant stage Carr-Coleman says she was influenced by South Africa’s first black president, activist, and philanthropist Nelson Mandela.

“One of the most influential books in my life was A Long Walk to Freedom. It was an autobiography about Nelson Mandela. One of my favorites was it’s not so much what happens to a person and how such person takes it. And I don’t know when I read that it really changed my life,” said Carr-Coleman.

Carr-Coleman was placed as a semifinalist. She is uncertain if she will compete in other pageants, but Carr-Coleman is confident that she wants to live an authentic life.