On the evening of October 18, 2003, in the city of Poplar Bluff, the audience at Black River Coliseum welcomed Miss St. Louis Metro, Shandi Finnessey, as the new Miss Missouri USA 2004. Shandi, a resident of Florissant, Missouri, is a 25-year-old honors graduate of Lindenwood University with a BS in psychology. She is working toward her doctorate degree in counseling. She is currently employed as a model for Talent Plus in St. Louis and Ford Agency in Chicago, and has credits in television commercials, runway, and print for magazines, newspapers, commercial retail products and billboards. She has modeled for Dillard's, Sak's Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Target, Famous Barr, Anheuser Busch, Pepose Lasik Vision, Cheer Detergent, Skintimate Shaving Products, BioSilk Hair Products, Pine Valley Natural Spring Water, and Manapro Horse Food. She is also employed as a motivational speaker and spends her days traveling across the state of Missouri, encouraging young students to practice inclusion of those that are "different." Shandi works to promote inclusion of individuals with mental challenges, specifically mental retardation and Down syndrome, through mentoring and job placement programs. She has written a children's educational book entitled, "The Furrtails," that has been published. She uses this tool as a visual aid when speaking with students at the elementary level. To date, Shandi has traveled over 50,000 miles across Missouri sharing her time, her heart, and her voice with the people of the "Show Me" state. Shandi supports many charities with her time and resources. Some of these charities include, but are not limited to, the AIDS foundation, Special Olympics in St. Louis, Variety Club Telethon, Best Buddies International, and Gilda's Club. In her free time, Shandi enjoys playing the piano and violin. She also is well studied in meditation and Yoga, and in the upcoming year is seeking certification for Yoga. She also enjoys painting abstract pictures, knitting, reading, working out, and napping with her cat, Squeaky. She is currently working to teach her baby African Gray Congo to talk. Shandi was Miss Missouri America 2002 and represented her state at the Miss America pageant in September 2002, held in Atlantic City, where she won the evening gown preliminary award. When asked what it is about pageants that she loves, Shandi says, "It is a place for strong women with opinions, intelligence, and beauty to showcase their talents while building character, self-confidence, and gaining knowledge in fitness and health." Shandi is the daughter of Patrick and Linda Finnessey, who have shared 33 years of marriage. She has three older brothers: Shane, 27, Damion, 31, and Paul, 33. Shandi plans to use the title of Miss Missouri USA 2004 to share the importance of inclusion of individuals with mental challenges into mainstream society. She is available for interviews, speaking engagements, emceeing events, autograph signing, or any other hosted event. Shandi represented Missouri at the 2004 MISS USA Pageant where she was crowned the winner on April 12, 2004 in Los Angeles.The MISS USA pageant was televised live on the NBC television network.