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Paso Robles High graduate crowned Miss Arizona 

Photo courtesy Tommy Lynn Calhoun

Photo courtesy Tommy Lynn Calhoun


Paso Robles native wins beauty queen title and promotes advocacy for youth

–Local resident and graduate of Paso Robles High School, Tommy Lynn Calhoun, 26, was recently crowned Miss Arizona USA 2017 on Oct. 30, 2016. Next year she will go on to compete in the Miss USA 2017 contest representing her current home state of Arizona. The winner of the Miss USA competition will go on to compete in the Miss Universe competition in 2017.

Calhoun emphasizes that beauty pageants are not just about beauty. “It seems to get lost in translation,” says Calhoun. “There is substance behind the girls who compete. For me, it’s about being a role model and inspiring today’s youth, not just about being beauty queen. People, especially youth, have a lot of limitations and stereotypes they are trying to break free from. Through pageantry I aim to inspire today’s youth to reach their goals, even those in difficult circumstances.”

Calhoun was born and raised in Paso Robles and grew up without a stable home environment.  She spent her childhood bouncing around from home to home until, at the age of fifteen, she met Holly Dunkel, a local paramedic supervisor, while volunteering in an emergency medicine program. Dunkel and Calhoun formed a bond and later, along with Dunkel’s husband John Dunkel, became her adopted parents. This life changing meeting helped set Calhoun on a path of accountability and provided her with a support system which she attributes to helping her succeed in life and meet her goals.


Calhoun competing for the 2010 Mid State Fair Queen title.

Now, the Dunkels are very proud of Calhoun, who in addition to winning this year’s title as 2017 Miss Arizona USA, was also crowned Miss California State Fair Queen in 2010 at the age of 19, and also the Arizona Bowl Queen at the age of 25 years old. Last year she was Runner-Up for the Miss Arizona USA title.

Calhoun relocated to Tucson, Arizona three years ago to be closer to her boyfriend, Jake Fisher, a former linebacker for the Arizona Wildcats. The couple had been dating long distance for more than a year before she decided to take the leap and relocate. The couple enjoy supporting each other’s extracurriculars, as well as going to the gym, and a shared love of Harry Potter.

The Miss Arizona contest judges contestants in evening gown presentation, swimsuit presentation, onstage questions and a judges private interview. The interview topics include a wide range of subjects where contestants must be able to adapt to pressure and speak on any topic. Calhoun says the judges asked her about her background and upbringing where she emphasized her mission to be a person that kids can relate to and her desire to encourage youth to reach their goals despite their challenges. “Everybody’s future is filled with possibilities. Regardless of if others believe in you or not, you have to believe in yourself,” says Calhoun.

In addition to being a beauty queen, Calhoun has also been a full-time physical therapy technician, originally at San Luis Sports Therapy in Paso Robles, then transferring to Athlon Physical Therapy in Tucson (a partner company). Additionally she is a motivational speaker for youth at risk and helps children in abusive or neglected situations understand they do not have to be a product of their environment.

Follow along on Tommy Lynn Calhoun’s journey to Miss USA via Instagram, @tommylynncalhoun.


Photo courtesy Tommy Lynn Calhoun.

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About the author: News Staff

The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at