Shawntell Michalke was crowned Pear Blossom Queen in Saturday's regional pageant. She plans to use the $2,000 scholarship that comes with the title to get a nursing degree from the University of Portland.

Not far from the tree

Shawntell Michalke, who was inspired by her father's struggles with paralysis and heart problems, has been named the winner of the 2014 Pear Blossom Festival Scholarship Pageant.

The South Medford High School senior received the honor during a ceremony Saturday night at North Medford High School.

This year, pageant contestants were asked to write and present essays about something that has inspired them.

Shawntell Michalke chose to write about her father, Henry Michalke III, who passed away in November.

During surgery for a heart condition in April 2013, he either suffered complications or a stroke that left him paralyzed from the rib cage down, his daughter said.

Because of nerve damage to one arm, he had one functioning arm. He also endured five episodes of cardiac arrest, Shawntell Michalke said.

"He became my inspiration because he was so strong," she said. "His dedication and determination through all of it was so amazing. He always had a smile on his face. I want to live my life for my dad and not just myself."

As the winner of the scholarship pageant, Shawntell Michalke will receive a $2,000 scholarship sponsored by Medford-based KOGAP Enterprises Inc.

She said she has applied for about 40 scholarships as part of her goal to attend the University of Portland, where she plans to pursue a degree in nursing.

Shawntell Michalke said she and her friends and family were ecstatic about the pageant scholarship.

"They were amazed with how I presented my essay about my dad. It was hard to talk about it. They're glad my hard work is paying off," said Shawntell Michalke, who is also the daughter of Rhonda Drake.

The essay counted for 40 percent of each contestant's score, said Pear Blossom Festival President and Pageant Director Darcey Mann-Self.

Contestants also were judged on leadership skills, academic achievements, school activities and civic involvement, she said.

Shawntell Michalke has been involved in numerous activities and groups, including the Rogue Regional Medical Center junior volunteer program, Relay for Life, Festival of Trees and Operation Christmas Child.

The first runner-up in the scholarship pageant was Tyler Grahame of North Medford High School, Mann-Self said.

The second runner-up was Megan Killam of Cascade Christian High School, she said.

In the 24 years of the pageant, more than $150,000 has been awarded to more than 150 young women in the Rogue Valley because of the support of valley sponsors, Mann-Self said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or Follow her at

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