NOTE: A photograph and audio are available at http://umns.umc.org.
A UMNS Feature By Linda Green*
Lauren Nelson is relying on her faith to keep her grounded during the hectic year that lies ahead for the newly crowned Miss America.
Nelson, 20, a member of Centenary United Methodist Church in Lawton, Okla., won the coveted title on Jan. 29 in Las Vegas.
"It has been a whirlwind of a first two weeks," she said in a telephone interview with United Methodist News Service. "I have been in probably six different cities already, and I will probably travel about 20,000 miles a month. I am very excited about this opportunity."
Nelson took a year off from her studies at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond to compete first in the Oklahoma state pageant, which she won, and then to vie with 51 other contestants for the Miss America crown. Her long-term goals are to earn a master's degree in musical theater and perform on Broadway.
The daughter of Mark and Sherrell Nelson of Lawton, she entered the pageant circuit at 16 to fulfill her desire to sing and perform. After winning the Miss Teen Lawton (Okla.) pageant, she went on to win Miss Teen Oklahoma.
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