Learning Curve: Pageant Star Mickey Deputy On Heading To College

The incoming Franklin College freshman and junior Colts cheerleader opens up about her struggles, fears, and ambitions.
Mickey Deputy
Mickey Deputy’s first obstacle in life was just that: life. She was born with Down syndrome and three holes in her heart. Doctors weren’t sure whether Mickey would survive. She spent much of her time at Riley Hospital for Children. After ten months, Mickey needed open­-heart surgery.

“We were in survival mode,” says Mickey’s mother, Jenny Deputy, about that time in her daughter’s life.

At age 7, Mickey was diagnosed with leukemia. The cancer led to Mickey’s constant battle with pneumonia and asthma. To Jenny, Mickey’s journey was never looked at in a long-term perspective. They were constantly trying to overcome the next obstacle. She admits that the family never thought beyond high school when it came to planning for Mickey’s future—but Mickey had plans of her own.

Now, Franklin Community High School diploma in hand, she is on her way to Franklin College’s INSPIRE program, a one­ to two­-year program designed for special-­needs adults like Mickey, 19, who wish to receive a college certificate. She has competed in several local pageants and been written up in USA Today.

IM sat down with Mickey and Jenny to discuss Mickey’s plans for the future.

Why did you decide to apply to college?

MD: Because I want to have the college life and just experience college.

What are you most looking forward to?

MD: I am most looking forward to the performing arts. I want to dance and sing.

A lot of us saw the video where you received your acceptance letter. What was that like?

MD: It was really cool. I was excited and nervous. I didn’t know if I was going to get in. I was hoping! I thought it would be a cool present if I got that on my birthday.

Is there anything that scares you going forward from here?

MD: I’m not really scared. I’m just hoping that everything goes into place. I’m never nervous because I know God can help me through it.

So you want to be a dance teacher?

MD: Yes! I want to be a dance teacher. Since I went to Nicaragua to work with special-­needs kids, I knew that I wanted to teach special­-needs kids something. So I want to do two things I love: dancing and teaching. I love dancing because I can tell stories. I love acting, too, because I make my own plays.

You make your own plays?

MD: Well, basically, it’s a princess who is like me. I want to [perform it] but I’m not that good at acting because I can’t remember lines. But I love singing, too, because I want to be in Wicked. I want to be Elphaba.

So besides dancing and singing, what do you do in your free time?

MD: I like to play with my Barbie dolls. I also make my plays. Sometimes I go down to the basement. I grab my iPad and my phone and do show-­choir stuff.

So you like to make to make your own music videos?

MD: Yeah!

Is that something else you would want to do? Be in a music video?

MD: Yeah, I love Taylor Swift.

How did you react when you received all this national attention?

MD: I don’t know. I just want to be me. My story is like a princess story. You just have to work hard and be confident in yourself, and anything is possible.

Where do you draw this inspiration from?

MD: A lot of people inspire me, but the one who is in heaven, God, inspires me because my name [Michaela means] “Who is like God.” My brother, my mom and dad, my teachers, my friends from school and choir [also inspire me].

Can we all still look forward to watching you perform in pageants?

MD: Yes!

JD: She’s already been asked to be in one that I think is in the late summer. So once we check eligibility, we’ll just have to start the fundraising. She’ll have to raise $100 for each pageant. Instead of paying an entry fee, they raise money, and all that money goes to Riley Hospital.

Why do you like doing pageants so much?

MD: I like doing pageants so I can show other people that special­-needs kids can do typical pageants and just be [themselves].

JD: At the Sweeps Pageant, she won the Spirit Award. It’s equivalent to what some people would call a Miss Congeniality award. The contestants vote on who they think should get this award. So it was her peers that voted on it. It wasn’t just the judges or anything like that. All the girls voted and chose her as the one who embodied the spirit of Miss Indiana.

You’ve accomplished a lot in 19 years. What keeps you so motivated?

MD: I am always happy because the Lord wants me to be happy. I’m trying to embrace the love of God.

Do things ever get tough for you?

MD: Life is a game. Sometimes I have hard times. I was bullied at two of my schools. At one of my schools, I was bullied because I had no hair. I was going through treatment. At the other school, no one knew I was there. They would walk past me. I sat by myself at lunch. But when I went to Franklin, everyone was loving.

How are you able to maintain such a positive attitude?

MD: Because something inside me tells me, don’t be like those kids. Be the kid that can be a trendsetter.


Photos courtesy Mickey and Jenny Deputy