Miss America Emma Broyles Puts Spotlight on Neurodiversity
Emma Broyles is from Anchorage, Alaska, and currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona to continue her studies in biomedical sciences and vocal performance at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. Having dermatillomania and acne herself along with a strong passion for helping others, she chose to study biomedical sciences as a preliminary degree to medical school with the goal of becoming a dermatologist. Not only is Emma the 100th Anniversary Miss America, she represents the Korean American community as the first Korean-American to earn the job of Miss America. Emma has earned over $110,000 in scholarships as a local candidate, Miss Alaska’s Outstanding Teen, Miss Alaska, and Miss America to further her educational goals. In addition to her social impact initiative, Building Community through Special Olympics, Emma also speaks of having ADHD, which she calls her “super power.” Today we ask how her neurodiversity has helped her career, why it is that girls and women are not as often diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and how she stays on time and on track! We are lucky and grateful to visit with this impressive young woman. Enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Miss America Emma Broyles discuss:
2:10 – Intro and welcome Emma Broyles!!
2:58 – You were public about being ADHD/ADD when you were competing! That’s amazing! What’s your backstory, when were you diagnosed, tell us everything?!
3:27 – On how women typically go undiagnosed and how her story is still not unusual
7:45 – Ref interview: The One with the ADHD PhD, Featuring Rachel Cotton
8:38 – Why do you think it’s a less often diagnosis in women or girls?
10:21 – On challenging the stereotype of “No way, you’re not ADD or ADHD!?”
10:48 – Do you think that ADHD/ADD played a formidable role in your competition and successes and if so, how beneficial or negative?
14:10 – How has your experience been in AZ as opposed to NYC, or growing up in Alaska?
15:38 – How did your scheduling go growing up? How did you keep school and extra-curricular going?
20:35 – Thank you Emma! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
21:28 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
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Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal. My name is Peter Shankman. I am thrilled that you’re here. It is a grey gross, disgusting Monday morning here. Actually. No, now it’s Monday afternoon here in New York city. Uh, it was snowing all night and then turned into rain around 4:00 AM. Just around the time. You’re like, oh, they’re gonna cancel. No, they’re not now. It’s just rainy and gross. So either. We have someone here who’s going to brighten up our day and say, oh, and the flowers and sunshine, and very excited for that. Introducing Emma Broyles, Emma is miss America, 2022. And you know, you say, oh, it was America And that’s usually like a euphemism for something, but no, she’s really miss America. She was miss Alaska and now she’s miss America. And, and she won. And that is the coolest thing ever. And I have a miss America on my podcast, which I think is awesome. The last miss America I met was I think in 2015 at a conference. I was the keynote speaker and she spoke right after me. And I remember meeting her right before she went on stage and she said, well, thanks. Now, now they’re now they’re hysterical and they think I’m going to be funny. I’m not funny. And that, that was not cool. And I’m like, I’m really sorry that you have to do that.
So Emma welcome to Faster Than Normal. I’m gonna try not to be funny.
Thank you so much for having me.
It’s great to have you here. So, uh, Emma, you are ADHD, which, and you were public about that. When you were on stage and when you were competing. So, I mean, that’s amazing in itself. It’s, it’s amazing that we’re at the point where we’re talking about that and we’re talking about it on a national stage and that’s, you know, that’s been the whole purpose of Faster Than Normal from the very beginning. And I as she had mentioned, she said she was familiar with my podcast before we talked. So that just makes me sooo happy. But, um, so tell us, tell us about your background. Tell us about your, your history. Um, growing up as a kid, when were you diagnosed the whole, the whole thing.
Yeah. You know, so this was kind of something that I talked about on stage during my onstage question was the fact that women tend to go undiagnosed with ADD or ADHD. And that was the case for me. I, you know, I grew up kind of as somewhat of a quiet kid, right. I would sit in the back of a class and. Oh, I, I, everything that I would be, um, you know, I’d be pinching myself, trying to get myself to focus. Right. But no matter what, I would sit through a lecture, I would sit through a class and then by the end of it, I would realize I have no idea what this professor or teacher just said to me, everything just goes in one ear and out the other, and it was so frustrating because then I would go at home attempting to do the homework at night. Right. And my peers would finish it during lunch. They’d finish it during the class period. And I’d sit there having to reteach the entire unit to myself. And so it took me about three times the amount of time that it took for any other student to finish my homework to like in, in, in like primary school, high school, things like that?
Yeah, exactly. And it was so frustrating and I didn’t really realize why I honestly, I thought that maybe I was just slow. I thought maybe I was just not as smart as the kids around me. And so it was something that was a big insecurity for me. And so I kind of did my best to overcompensate. So I had these long, so every morning I would plan out my morning before school, I’d say, okay, 6:55. I wake up by seven o’clock I’m in the bathroom, brushing my teeth by 7:10, you know? So it was down to the minute. That’s why nobody would have known that I had ADD, right. I was the president of national honor society. I graduated with honors. I then went into, um, uh, bear at the honors college at ASU and nobody would have ever guessed, right. Like I, I had this busy life and it seemed like I was doing great, but it was all before. Um, the time that I had to put in behind the scenes just to be at the same level as my peers. And then finally, when COVID hit, COVID hit when I was a sophomore in college. Um, and I just remember being in my dorm, trying to do online learning, and it was so hard for me and my, my grades were just tanking and that was the first for me. I had usually been pretty much a straight A student with a B here or there, but all of a sudden I was flunking all of my tests. And I remember talking to some of my friends who also have ADD and they were telling me about one of my best friends actually, she got diagnosed during our freshman year of college and she was telling me about her symptoms and about what her medication did for her. And I was listening, sitting there, listening to her. Oh, my gosh, like that sounds exactly like me. So I go online. I did some research about ADD, ADHD in women and how it typically goes undiagnosed. And I went ahead and I scheduled an appointment, um, with a doctor here in Arizona and I ended up getting diagnosed and we tried some different variations of dosage for medication and all of a sudden it was like the blinds had been taken off of my eyes and it was so funny cause everything just flipped around for me. And that, that next semester I got straight A’s I think I got all close to a hundred percent in all of my classes for the first time ever taking, you know, 21 credits and working two jobs. And all of a sudden it was like what the heck, this whole time, I could have just been taking medication and sailing through life. So it was, it was great in a way, in the way, in the sense that it, um, it made. Feel really hopeful for the future, because I was really nervous about medical school. I was like, oh my gosh. You know, if I’m already putting in this much effort for my undergraduate degree, how am I going to last in medical school? But at the same time, it was really frustrating to think that I didn’t realize, and that I didn’t go and get diagnosed in high school or in middle school..Uh, I don’t know, you know, I don’t know what it was like for you, but, um, I’m sure a lot of people listening can kind of resonate with the story that it’s so frustrating thinking about how much time you spent being frustrated with yourself and frustrated with your abilities feeling like you weren’t good enough. Um, but yeah, that’s kinda my story.
I mean, you know, imagine doing that in the seventies, eighties, when ADHD wasn’t a thing.
Yeah, I can’t imagine.
It was just the sit down, you’re disrupting the class disease, um, it’s funny. Your story has a lot of similarities to someone we had on the podcast very early on, um, a PhD now, a, a doctor and she got her PhD. Uh, during the time she was on a podcast called re uh, named Rachel Cotton [[The One with the ADHD PhD, Featuring Rachel Cotton]] and she got her PhD in neuroscience, uh, epidemiology. Basically she’s the one, uh, who, uh, everyone on Facebook thinks they know more than about COVID. Um, but she’s actually a, actually a doctor in this and she was saying very similar things to you, but, you know, she, she was, uh, uh, made the Dean’s list at Notre Dame and, and, and went to Harvard for her PhD and all this. And yet she was mainlining like caffeine pills and, and, you know, sleeping like four hours a night and all the stuff, because she didn’t, um, she also wasn’t diagnosed. And as soon as she got diagnosed, everything. Right. So, so there’s definitely, um, why do you think it is a lesser diagnosis in women? Do you think it’s that it’s that women or girls at that point when they’re younger are not getting diagnosed because they’re not, they’re not able to articulate what’s going on or is it just that it’s not thought of as something that could affect women as well?
Yeah. You know, I think that I’ve read a lot of articles about this, and it’s really interesting how hyperactivity and a lot of women who have ADD hyperactivity is just now part of the diagnosis. Right? And so when you’re in a classroom, right, when a teacher would spot a little boy running laps around the class, she said, something’s wrong with this boy? You know, he can’t focus. He’s tapping his pen, he’s distracting his other classmates. Like this is an issue, not just for him, but for the other classmates. So he needs to go get diagnosed. He needs to see a doctor, but for girls, it’s more of this kind of, and this was the same thing. Same thing for me is that it’s kind of like the day dreamer kind of a thing where, you know, You’re looking right at the teacher and it looks like you’re, um, you’re totally focused, you’re totally zoned in, but there’s a whole nother world going on in that brain. And I think that’s typically why it goes undiagnosed is because nobody would know except for that person, and typically, especially cause we don’t talk about ADD or ADHD that often. And so girls don’t know what it is. They don’t know that there’s something wrong with them, they just think that, oh, maybe I’m just. Smart. I dunno. I dunno. Maybe, maybe I’m just really lazy, you know, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why girls tend to go undiagnosed, but, um, yeah, it’s difficult. It’s difficult because everyone that I talked to after I got diagnosed, they would say no way. And it just frustrating, you know, to have people doubt you and doubt your diagnosis saying no way you don’t have ADHD, you don’t have ADHD. I don’t believe it. You’re always, you know, you’re so smart. You always do really well. School, like, how could you have add? And it’s like, come on guys. Really, really?
I remember a girlfriend of mine once I said, I said, yeah, you know, she said: Oh well just focus more!” Oh, screw me, that’s all it is!? Sorry! No, no medication, no nothing, you’re right, here we go. All right, I’ll do it! Tell me about, so you’ve been performing and, and I guess, uh, acting and pageants and all that for obviously for years. Um, it’s not something you just wake up one day and say, okay, I’m going to go compete miss American’s afternoon. So obviously it’s something you’ve been doing for years. Um, do you think that ADHD played a role in, or ADD played a role in that at all? And if so, how beneficial or negative or..
Yeah. So, you know, I really, the hyper activity or not the hyper activity, the, um, the ability of somebody who has add or ADHD to kind of hyper-focus on something is such an incredible, it’s such an incredible tool, imo. Um, I, I honestly think that it’s why I got so into music at such a young age is because it was something that I felt like I understood, whereas school, sometimes I felt like I didn’t know what was going on, but in my music lessons, I had no problem focusing because it was something that I just absolutely loved and adored. Um, and so it was like every single one of my senses was just completely tuned in to what I was doing and what I was singing. Um, you know, paying attention to the breath support and the lyrics, and you know, everything. So I think that being able to hyper-focus on something is absolutely what I call a super power I think; in so many different ways. And now that I’m in college, especially now that I’m studying things that I actually am interested in. I especially liked my psychology courses, but, um, you know, I would sit there and read my psychology textbook for hours on end and just be completely indulged because it’s just be completely indulged because when you find something that you’re passionate about. Your brain, just zeros in on that thing. And, um, it’s, it’s just, it’s crazy. I think it’s a crazy superpower that people with ADHD have. And I think that, especially with music, um, singing in a lot of people don’t have this ability to be singing in a choir, right. Because you have to tune out all the other voices that are going on around you, but when you kind of hyper-focused on your own voice and your own part, it’s so easy to just block out the rest of the things that are going on there rest of the instruments that are playing that people were singing. Um, so I think that it’s especially interesting seeing all the people who have add or ADHD in me.
It’s funny, you mentioned that, I mean, I went to high school for performing arts, the Fame school, and I have 22 years classical vocal training under my belt. Wow. I come from an opera, jazz and showtunes background. So I, people never talk about that. But, um, I mean, I was performing Gilbert and Sullivan, uh in high school and what you’re saying, I mean, I was captain Cochran at HMS Pinafore, and that was the only thing I focused on for three months until the show. And then every day after, because that was literally all I saw, um, at the expense of every other class I was taking. But you know, it, it, it becomes that when we love it, we don’t need to worry about what’s distracting us because we’re not focused on it when we love it. Our brains are producing enough serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine to allow us to focus. It’s the things we don’t love when our body doesn’t produce enough of so we’re constantly looking around for something to get us back into focus. So that speaks well, that speaks volumes. And was it, was it different? I don’t, I don’t know much about Alaska is one of the two states in, in my world. I have not visited Alaska and South Dakota are the two states that are not Alaska and North Dakota the two states had yet to visit, um, was it was growing up in, I mean, you know, this was growing up in Alaska and going to high school and I was, cause at school has a different world than what say someone would experience. I mean, I’m, I’m assuming you grew up in a city part of it, you know, but is it, is it still different comparatives, like a New York or an LA or something like that? What are you finding now that you’re in Arizona and things like that?
Ooh, you know, honestly the biggest difference, which this doesn’t really mean anything is. ’cause when we would go to school in Alaska, right? The sun doesn’t come up till 10:30 AM. So you’d go to school and it would be pitch black. And then you sit through your first three periods of the day and it’d be pitch black. And then finally the sun would come up and then by the time you’re out of school, if you go to practice, you know, I’d go to swim practice, and then I’d come out and then it’d be dark again. And then I’d go home and it’s pitch black. But I noticed it was a lot easier. I feel like it’s a lot easier to focus when you go to school. And because I go to school in Arizona now it’s nice and bright and sunny. I feel like it just. Allows you to focus a little more and puts you in a better mood. Yeah. Yeah. But in terms of the education system, I would, I’ll ask. I have a pretty great education system. I haven’t really noticed any big differences between Alaska versus any other school, any other states in their schools, but, um, um, I would say that going to school when it’s sunny out makes it easier.
It was funny. I was in Iceland last month and you know, we landed, our flight landed at 5:00 AM. Uh, it’s a red eye and you get there and you’re okay. And you know, you’re in town by like 7:30 in the morning. It’s pitch black, nothing. Right. And you know, you’re walking around. You’re like, oh, there will be light soon, but actually no it won’t, it’s like three hours from now! So that happens. It was definitely a wake up call. Um, tell me about some of your extracurricular activities. So, you know swim team and things like that. Um, were you able to, how was your scheduling growing up and like as a young adult, were you able to schedule you know, waking up at 6:55 and being in the bathroom, I suddenly am. And it was, it, was it difficult to, to schedule things and to keep to those schedules when you were doing like extracurricular versus school versus out of school, everything like that?
Yeah. You know, I think another big part ADD, and ADHD is um, when you’ve got homework, right or when you’ve got a project, when you’ve got something to do, it’s so hard to sit down and get yourself to do it. Right. So I would come home after swim practice and it would be like 4:30, right. Then I’d go eat dinner by the time it’s like 5:30 and sometimes I would have, you know, volunteering or I dunno, Musical practice or voice lessons. And there were some late nights and then I would sit there with my homework and I wouldn’t start some nights until like midnight or 1:00 AM. And I was like, great. I need to get up at 6:55 tomorrow morning, but here we are. And. You know, it was, it was, so it was so difficult, but I did notice that, you know, once I got medicated, all of a sudden it was that much easier to start a project, to start my homework, to start the things that I had been dreading but, um, I think kind of the biggest struggle with my schedule was actually getting myself to sit down and do the things that I needed to do. Most times I would sit down, get the pencil in my hand, have the homework in front of me, and then I’d be like alright, let; s go on my phone okay, Yeah, I think that was my biggest roadblock in terms of, um, being productive and getting things done on time. But, you know, I also had this just like huge fear of being late or turning in assignments on time. So I did, I would always pull it off at the last minute. I always did it, but, um, But it’s just so hard to get started.
Couple of more questions that I want to be respectful of your time. Um, tell us about what your favorite sort of tricks or hacks are, um, that make your life work as well as it does with ADD?
Yeah. So one of the main things that I obviously had already told you was, um, scheduling out my mornings to a T, especially if I have an event, or I know that I have to do my hair and makeup. I’ve got to get the crown on and I’ve thought Uber there, I’ve got to drive there. Um, even down to like, okay, actually I have to allot time for myself. Cause right. Sometimes I’ll get up in the more I’ll sit in my bed for 10 minutes before I get out. So I got to give myself those 10 minutes and my schedule, and then I got to get out and give myself 5 minutes for brushing my teeth. Cause I don’t remember how long it takes to do this and that and go get the toothpaste. but, um, another one of the big things that people, you know, I’m sure you, you know, the, with ADD and ADHD is this idea of time blindness and that’s one of the worst things for me. And so something that I’ll do in the mornings, especially if I wake up a little bit late is also. Like a 5 minute timer on my phone that’ll go off every 5 minutes just so I can keep track of myself. And I always wear a watch because if I don’t wear a watch, 4 hours could pass and I’ll make it two seconds. Right. But I’m always checking my watch. I’m always keeping an eye on the time. And, um, I’m always setting, setting short little alarms that go off every five minutes or every 10 minutes an hour usually if I’m spending the whole day studying. Just to kind of check in with myself and say, okay, here’s the time. Here’s how much longer I have, but that’s probably one of the biggest things that has helped me, and I still do that every single morning.
Really, really smart. Really.. that’s a really good idea about the alarms every 5 minutes, just to sort of keep you in the zone because it’s very true. I mean, and especially with what I love, my favorite, my favorite time in the world is knowing that I have nothing to do for the day and okay. I can just sit. No, I don’t have this and that. I can sit and read a book. I can sit down. I don’t have to worry about this or that. It doesn’t matter. Um, tell us how people can find you, what are your social handles, if any, and how can people follow you and, and, and learn more about you?
So your schedules where you’re going to be upcoming and all that. [[SEE ABOVE]]
Yeah. So people, my personal Instagram is Emma Broyles, Emma bro, Y L E S underscore, and then the miss America, Instagram, which is where all of my events and all of my, um, All of my appearances go are, that’s going to be at miss America and then on the miss America, Instagram, and this is also the same for Facebook. You just can search with America, um, and Twitter, but, and there’s a link in the bio of the miss America, Instagram, and I think there’s somewhere on there where you can email [email protected]. If you ever have a request for an appeal. And interview or what have you. Um, and then all types of information is in that, that bio as well. So I think my personal bio was there in the, on the website. Um, but yeah. Yeah. That’s how you can find me on social media.
I cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of what I’m sure is a crazy schedule. Uh, even though it’s Arizona, it’s a gorgeous day there. I hope you’re enjoying it. Emmy Broyles Thank you so much for making the time to come on Faster Than Normal; I know it’s gonna be a phenomenal interview when it goes live. We really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me. This is really, really great. All right. Stick around for a second. Guys. You’ve listened to Faster Than Normal. If you like what you heard, drop us a review. If you have a guest, uh, Emma came to us by a suggestion so that it does work! So if you have a suggestion, pick anyone you want to. Let us know, and we will get them.. we will work our butts off to get them on the podcast. Um, you can find me at shankman.com and @petershankman on all the socials. Our producer is Steven Byrom, he does an amazing job, give him a shout. [thanks Peter! I’m for hire! @stevenbyrom on Twitter and also via www.byroMMusic.com We will see you next week with a brand new interview. Thank you for listening. And remember that any form of neuro-diversity is different. Different is good. It is a gift. It is not a curse. We will see you next week. Thanks for listening.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!
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