10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Sonya Wise, 54

Artist & Volunteer
Charity: Southwest Missouri Museum Associates

The woman who receives the most votes during online voting and has the biggest crowd at the event will be able to donate a portion of the Indulge event ticket proceeds to her charity. The winner will be announced during Indulge.

What is your local 417-land charity of choice, and why is it important to you? 
Southwest Missouri Museum Associates (SMMA). SMMA is the founder of the Springfield Art Museum. In 1926, Deborah Weisel, along with 6 other women started the Art Study Club. In the 1940’s they donated the property they purchased to the city of Springfield and reorganized under the name Southwest Missouri Museum Associates. Many years ago SMMA started a program to bring every 5th grader in the city of Springfield to the museum for a docent led tour.

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do?
I have been a docent for the Springfield Art Museum since 2009. Each year over 2500 5th graders from the City of Springfield and surrounding areas come to the museum for a Docent led tour. For some of these students it is the first time they have been to a museum. The docents are volunteers who learn about our permanent collection at the museum and share our passion for art with these students. SMMA funds the transportation for these tours. Our goal is to raise enough money to keep these tours going in perpetuity. I have personally been blessed to have led over 1000 students through our beautiful museum.

For five years I also served as the chairperson for the SMMA Fall Fashion Show that raised over $60,000 for our organization.
Studio 55 Fine Arts Guild is a group that supports visual fine arts in Springfield. It showcases and promotes the many talented artists in the area with monthly educational programs and exhibits. I am also a board member and Treasurer for that organization.

Finally, I am on the special events committee of Habitat for Humanity of Springfield. For the past 4 years, I have been involved in the administration and set up of the silent auction for the Tool Belts and Bow Ties event. In that four years we raised $398,747 gross. Of that $65,062 was auction gross. We raise enough money each year in one evening to build a home for a deserving family in Springfield.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?
Caring about her community.

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of?
My two determined and hard working daughters and my two adorable grandsons!

What was one particularly defining moment in your life? A life-changing moment.
Turning 40 was awesome; you think to yourself, “why didn’t I feel this way about myself when I was younger.” It’s like an awakening! Turning 50 was even better!

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?
I would probably say my grandma, Hazel. She was one of the most stern and confident women I’ve ever met.

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?
Beauty is 5 percent lipstick and 95 percent confidence.

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?
My father used to say that he was “a jack of all trades and a master of none”. He taught me to never say “I can’t do that”. For that reason, I’ve led a fulfilled life with many trades... Here are a few...

  • 20 time Grand Champion Competition Dancer ATCDA/UCWDC
  • Danced on stage with Reba McIntire, Toby Keith and Lucy Arnez
  • Mrs. Missouri America 1999 - Competing in Mrs. America, Honolulu, HI
  • Best Actress In a Musical - Joplin Little Theater - 2006/2007 Encore Season Awards
  • I was the original Operations Manager for LICRAT, (Lead ImpactedCommunities Relocation Assistance Trust) for the Tar Creek Superfund Site in Picher, OK.

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?
You don’t have to look far.... It’s people!

See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on September 13 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.