Shields was born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of Wal-Mart, Tyson foods and the University of Arkansas. Her parents are Todd and Karen Shields.
According to her website, art has always been a huge part of Shields’ life. She wrote:
“When I was a kid I would beg for runs to Hobby Lobby or any nearby craft store and would ask for ‘art stuff’ every holiday.”
She attended Fayetteville High School located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where art continued to be one of her passions.
“When I grew up to be an angst-y teenager I still had my love for art,” she wrote. “But when it was time to choose my major I dismissed the idea.”
After graduating from high school, Shields went on to study at the University of Arkansas. Eventually, she chose art as her major and minored in business.
According to her website, Shields was first introduced to the Miss America Organization when she was eight. She remembers watching the competition on television in her living room with her mother, when her mother told her something along the lines of, “you could do that someday.”
At the age of 12, she went to watch a mentor compete at a local pageant for Miss Arkansas, Miss University of Arkansas. Shields says she was in “awe.” Watching the young women perform, speak, and wear beautiful dresses had her hooked. She knew that when she was old enough, she wanted to perform onstage too.
When she turned 13, Shields competed in her first local, Miss Heart of the Ozarks Outstanding Teen. For her active wear she wore a tennis outfit and even brought a tennis racket out onstage with her. For her talent, Shields showcased her dance skills. On her website she said:
“Getting to dance onstage was something that I loved to do, so winning was not exactly at the forefront of my mind.”
Shields won one of the two Outstanding Teen titles of the pageant. She was crowned Miss Heart of the Ozarks’ Outstanding Teen 2009.
After her crowning, Shields wrote on her website:
“I walked over like bigfoot towards my best friend who just won Miss Dogwood’s Outstanding Teen and our crowns got caught together.”
The next morning, Shields was told she would be competing at the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen pageant. However, she writes on her website she had no idea there was even a state pageant. Shields then went on to compete for the title of Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen 2009. She won the title in June of 2009 at the age of 13, one of the youngest contestants to ever win the title. Shields wrote of the win on her website:
“A few months later I competed, and to my complete shock, won Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2009. Complete and utter shock is the best way to describe my emotions for the following week. I was young, confused, did not know who I was or why I was put into the position I was in, but I knew I was there for a reason.”
Shields then went on to compete at the 2010 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant on August 15, 2009 at the Orange County Convention Center located in Orlando, Florida. While she did not place nor win any special awards, Shields returned to her home state and served her reign with passion. Shields wrote on her website about her reign:
“I grew more that year than I could have ever imagined. I could go on a whole rant of all the things I learned, and maybe will in a later post, but for now, I will spare you all. However, what’s most important for ya’ll to know is that my sister queen was the most loving, compassionate, intelligent, servant hearted, passionate, and inspiring woman I have ever met. Miss Arkansas 2009, Sarah Slocum Collins, showed me the power of one voice. I got to witness first-hand how she impacted and loved and entire state, and I decided I wanted to grow up and be like Sarah. But I knew I had to wait.”
Shields then took a small break from pageants. She returned to the pageant stage in 2013 when she was crowned Miss Arkansas Collegiate America.
Shields then went on to compete in the 2013 Miss Collegiate America pageant. On July 8, 2013, Shields won her first national title, Miss Collegiate America 2013, in Orlando, Florida.
Shields then took another step away from the pageant stage. However, only a couple years later, Shields stepped back into the pageant spotlight. She wrote on her website:
“I saw that Miss Arkansas was a job in which I needed to be emotionally, spiritually, and mentally mature for. Fast forward seven years later to my junior year of college. I had gone through some pretty serious moments in my life (more info on that later), and I felt as if I had “found myself”, or at least that I was ready to start competing again.”
In October of 2015, Shields returned to the stage where she won her local Outstanding Teen title, the Miss Heart of the Ozarks pageant, only this time she was competing as a Miss. Shields wrote of the experience on her website.
“I competed for my first local as a Miss, Miss Heart of the Ozarks, and I was terrified. I was beyond scared I was not going to be enough, convinced I was only good as a Teen, that Miss was too lofty for me to compete for, and that I was going to let people down. A lot of flashbacks from competing at that same local as a Teen later, I became Miss Heart of the Ozarks.”
Shields won the title of Miss Heart of the Ozarks 2016. The win qualified her to compete at the 2016 Miss Arkansas pageant. During the next ten months, Shields threw herself into preparing for the job of becoming Miss Arkansas and potentially, Miss America. She wrote of her preparations on her website.
“My mindset for Miss Arkansas was to give two thousand percent. If I won that was fantastic, and if I lost, I knew it wasn’t because I did not work hard enough. I would work out twice a day and practice my talent for hours, so when it came to performing my talent on stage, all I had to do was just press “play”. Mock interviews were a annual activity and watching the news every morning and every night became habit. Something hilarious I have to admit is that while running on the treadmill, I would watch previous Miss America competitions on YouTube so I could “run towards my dreams.” I now wish someone would’ve caught me on camera.”
It was this preparation that taught Shields an important lesson about herself.
“The moral of this 10 month season is that I had never worked so hard in my entire life. I realized that the limitations my mind had created were merely guide lines to what I was actually capable of achieving. I learned what it meant to have a goal and make daily steps towards achieving it.”
Miss Arkansas Week finally arrived. Shields wrote on her website:
“The week of Miss Arkansas came, and again I was scared, but this time with a little gumption. There was a peace I had knowing I did everything possible to prepare myself, and I was beyond excited to compete again.”
Shields preparation paid off. As a first time Miss contestant, Shields was eligible for both the Alpha and Overall awards. She won an Alpha Preliminary Talent Award for her jazz dance to "They Just Keep Moving the Line" from the hit television show Smash during the second night of preliminary competition. On the final night of preliminary competition, Shields won the Alpha Preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit Award and tied Savannah Skidmore for the Overall Preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit. Then, it came time for the final night of competition. Shields wrote on her website:
“But when the final night came, my feelings shifted. My mom brought me some tilapia for dinner, and I started crying. I told her over and over again how I felt I was going to win, but didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel I was good enough to do the job.”
Shields mom answered, “Well Savs, you’ve got two hours until the show starts so reapply that lipstick and remember why you did this in the first place.”
Shields went on to be crowned Miss Arkansas 2016 at the end of the 79th annual Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant. She was crowned on July 9, 2016 at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena located in Hot Springs, Arkansas in front of a crowd of more than 2,500 people.
It was also announced during the final night of competition that Shields won the Tony Bowls Designs Overall Evening Gown Award, the Katie Bailey Overall Swimsuit Award, one of three Newcomer Awards, the Overall Alpha Evening Gown Award, the Overall Alpha Talent Award, the Overall Alpha Swimsuit Award and the Overall Alpha Interview Award.
Shields also won a $25,000 scholarship provided by Ted and Shannon Boy Skokos, Citgo and the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation plus more than $75,000 in awards, wardrobe, transportation and gifts.
Nine hours after winning her state title, Shields was on a plane heading for Miss America Orientation. Shields wrote of orientation on her website:
“Most of orientation week was filled with selfies and laughter, but I will always remember what our CEO Sam Haskell said to us. He encouraged us to follow our hearts, be ourselves, and be kind. This was the best advice I received in preparation for Miss America.”
Shields then headed off to compete at the 90th annual Miss America pageant in early September. She wrote on her website.
“The two weeks of Miss America were the two most memorable weeks of my life. Very little sleep, lots of coffee, and lots of emotions. The very first time all of us stepped onto the stage of Boardwalk Hall, we teared up. There is something very special and nostalgic in the history of Miss America that seriously pulls at your heart strings.”
During the preliminary competition, Shields won a Preliminary Talent Award during the second night of preliminary competition on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 for same jazz routine that won her state pageant.
The final night of competition arrived on September 11, 2016. Shields wrote on her website:
“Final night arrived, or TV night as the production team calls it, and at that point we had 51 new best friends. Everyone is running on adrenaline and getting their last hugs in before we leave to opposite ends of the country. And once again, I had that strange feeling. I felt a sense of peace that it was my time.”
Shields made the cut for the Top 15, then the Top 12, then the Top 10, finally it was down to the Top 7. Shields was asked during the final onstage question by Gabby Douglas, “Hillary Rodham Clinton. What do you think?”
After two hours and six costume changes, Chris Harrison announced, “Arkansas” as the new Miss America. Shields was crowned by outgoing Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell. Rachel Wyatt of South Carolina, a former Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, was first runner-up. Shields wrote of the moment on her website.
“I remember this moment in pictures that pass by in slow motion. I remember hugging my sisters who were on stage with me. I remember looking at Landon the intern and seeing him screaming “It’s you!” I remember realizing I’m 15 feet from Ciara, but reminding myself I can’t go run and hug her at the moment. I remember being on that famous runway, waving at thousands of human beings all the while trying to process how the rest of your life has completely changed. I remember seeing my mom at the bottom of the runway and reaching down to hold her hand (I’ll cherish that moment forever). But the last thing I remember is running back to my sisters and the embraces they gave me.”
From that moment, Shields life changed forever. In addition to the title of Miss America, Shields won a $50,000 scholarship. For the next year, Shields traveled around the country as Miss America. She promoted her platform, “Eat Better, Live Better.” She also served as a national spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network.
On September 10, 2017, Shields gave her final walk as Miss America and crowned the new Miss America 2018, Cara Mund.
Shields then returned to the University of Arkansas to finish her degree. Shields had taken time off school to fulfill her duties as both Miss Arkansas and Miss America.
On December 15, 2017, Shields longtime boyfriend, Nate Wolfe, proposed. The two married on July 28, 2018 in Bentonville, Arkansas. The wedding had the hashtag #savvyssoulnate.
For the wedding, Shields wore a fitted Berta wedding gown covered head-to-toe in lace. The gown featured spaghetti straps and a deep v-neck. She accessorized with a cathedral tulle veil.
The wedding was featured in the Knot exclusive. The event was also featured in the national publication, Inside Weddings.
Shields rediscovered her love for painting after hanging up her pageant heels. On her website, she wrote about the joy of picking up a paintbrush again.“Two weeks ago when I went to Matt and Meredith Boyd’s home, I glanced to their back porch and saw a blank canvas. I knew a beautiful and therapeutic evening was ahead. I love a blank canvas for all the artistic and cliche reasons. New possibilities. A fresh start. Anything is possible. All those cheesy but true feelings.”
Shields admits, at first, she was not sure what to paint. However, she went back to the “Dancing Girl” series she started her junior year of college.
“I started off with some really quick and big strokes, getting the outline for my dancer girl while also trying to catch a sense of movement in the painting. As if she is dancing off the canvas.”
Shields posted a photo of the finished work to her website. However, the dancer does not have a face. Shields wrote:
“I never know when to end my paintings, but I am always a big fan of art that let the audiences’ mind fill in the rest.”
“Art works a little like muscle memory, you never forget what you love. I am forever thankful I got to paint for the first time in forever. I was reminded of how important it is to make time for the things that set your soul on fire. Hopefully you all will be seeing many more of these little works as this year goes on.”
Shields has started selling her work on her website.
Now a former, Shields is still shaped by the opportunities offered to her through pageants. Shields summarized her experience on her website:
“I get asked quite often how my life has changed since becoming Miss America, and I can confidently say that every single part of my life has been touched by this organization. From the character qualities I have gained, the friendships I have made, to the way I view the world around me, I am forever changed for the better because of my MAO.”
She was baptized in a horse trough. She has one brother, Dane. She is a sister of the Gamma Nu chapter of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She is the third Miss Arkansas to win Miss America and the first since Elizabeth Ward in 1982. She won both of her national titles in a black evening gown. In March of 2017, Shields was appointed the Honorary Chair and Statewide Ambassador for the Healthy Active Arkansas Initiative by Governor Asa Hutchinson.