Mai Shanley: First Eurasian to win Miss USA

15 Jul 2020 | Ana Walia

Mia Shanley is an American model and a beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss New Mexico USA 1984 after which she represented New Mexico at Miss USA 1984 on 17th May 1984 at Lakeland Civic Auditorium, Lakeland, Florida and was crowned as the representative of USA for Miss Universe 1984 pageant. She is the first Eurasian delegate to win Miss USA crown and represent the country at Miss Universe stage.

Mia was born to a Taiwanese mother and Irish father in Ireland and was raised in an Irish-Taiwanese household. She is a Military Brat and an Overseas School Alumnus who graduated as a member of the Class of 1981 of Woodbridge American HS in England and attended Grade School at J.M. Wainwright School, Taiwan. She won her first pageant as Miss New Mexico 1983 and earned the opportunity to represent New Mexico at Miss USA 1983 where she went unplaced but didn’t give up on her dream to represent USA at Miss Universe stage.


Mai Shanley: First Eurasian to win Miss USA


In 1984, Mia participated in Miss New Mexico USA pageant and with her confidence, hard work, and determination, she won again and represented New Mexico at Miss USA 1984 but this time she also won Miss USA 1984 and a chance to represent USA at Miss Universe stage. She became the first contestant from New Mexico to win the national crown. During her stint at Miss Universe 1984, she was appreciated for her performance and dedication but she was placed as the Top 10 at the end of the event finale after which Mia decided to retire from beauty pageants.

After winning the title of Miss USA 1984 and becoming the first Eurasian delegate to win it, Mia stated, “It’s been a dream of mine and I didn’t I’d make it this far.” She described herself as a simple woman from a simple town with simple ideas while giving an interview a while back. She had been proud of herself for achieving what she had always dreamt of and mentioned that she just wanted to give her best shot to win and believes that her win was not based on just her looks but because her interview round was the strongest and they were impressed with my answer. She also mentioned that she had her Irish luck (Four-leaf clover) sewn inside her gown during the finale night which worked.


Mai Shanley: First Eurasian to win Miss USA


During her reign as Miss USA, she met President Reagan in the Oval Office and lived for a year in New York City with Miss Universe. She travelled to her mother's home country of Taiwan, where she and her parents were official guests of the government for the week and toured the island.

After her reign, Shanley pursued modelling and participated in the television show Dream Girl U.S.A., where she placed in the top five and won $30,000 in cash and prizes. She then became a beauty consultant before moving abroad with her pilot-husband Mark Fitzgerald and two children. She now works as the United Kingdom manager for an international wine broker and coordinates chapel music programs for two local air bases, heads the base spouse's group and sings for charity.