Claudia Elizabeth Raffo

Arkansas 2018

Claudia Elizabeth Raffo

State: Arkansas

School: Arkansas State University

College Major: Chemistry

Scholarship Winnings: $85,000

Social Impact Initiative: New Life Saves Lives: Umbilical Cord Donation The miracle of life is a gift we witness every time a child is born. The very lifeline that sustained that child can also offer a lifeline to others. Through umbilical cord donation, we are given a powerful tool to help fight against blood diseases and certain cancers. Sadly, after each new birth, the normal practice is to discard the umbilical cord as medical waste; we are literally throwing away what could be someone else’s chance at life. New mothers have a choice: save, donate or discard their umbilical cords.

Miss America empowers me to: Miss America empowered me to fulfill my educational goals by funding my undergraduate degree at Arkansas State University and allowing me to pursue my doctorate of pharmacy almost completely debt free.

Bio: One of my favorite childhood memories is watching Miss America with my grandmother. After surviving cancer twice, she was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. When no match was found, doctors suggested using the stem cells from umbilical cords. The donation of “medical waste” extended my grandmother’s life and my time with her. With this social impact I have educated the public through events, raised money, and swabbed candidates for the National Bone Marrow Registry. My hope is that this awareness will extend to families, like mine, who have a loved one in need of a transplant.

Photo credit: Yachin Parham