Erin Nurss, who holds a bachelor's degree in nutrition from The University of Arizona and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health, was announced as the winner of the Miss Arizona pageant Saturday night.
Nurss, a Tucson resident, will represent Arizona at the Miss America 2009 pageant on January 24, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nev.
“Being on that stage dancing and competing for Miss America has been a dream since I was seven years old,” Nurss, who also was an honors student at the UA, said of the next challenge awaiting her.
Sixteen contestants from throughout the state competed for the title, including two other UA students. Second runner-up Stephanie Brooks is seeking a UA degree in fine arts and fourth runner-up Katie Blodgett is an honors student majoring in marketing and musical theater at the UA.
This year marked the Miss Arizona pageant's 70th anniversary.
Nurss, who was born in Sierra Vista, was a member of the UA Pom Line from 2003-2007 and built her Miss Arizona platform from her studies at the UA and the work she did to promote healthy habits to youth. “I worked with the Girl Scouts of America to teach nutrition and physical activity with the aim of promoting positive self image through a program I developed called ‘Be Fit, Fueled and Fabulous.’ The program worked to counter media notions of what being fit and healthy means and also gave them the tools to do so,” Nurss said.
Nurss credits the UA and her advisors at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health with helping her build her Miss Arizona platform. The contestants’ platform is the core message and cause supported and promoted by the contestants throughout the competition and the winner’s reign.
She has completed the first of two years of graduate study at the UA and will suspend the remaining year of study to focus on her Miss Arizona duties, which include the filming of a reality series for the TLC network called “Miss America: Reality Check.”
Nurss will dedicate her time as Miss Arizona traveling throughout the state to promote her health habits platform and also to raise money for the organization’s scholarships and her charity, the Children’s Miracle Network.
“I also will use the opportunity to recruit more contestants from throughout the state to compete in the Miss Arizona pageant. I have met and know so many talented women on the UA campus alone that should be competing. I want to let all young women know what a great opportunity this is and let them know that anything is possible,” Nurss said.
Nurss’s pageant package includes a two-year tuition waiver to Maricopa Community Colleges, a $78,000 scholarship to Palmer College of Chiropractic and a $6,500 International Air Academy Scholarship. She also will receive free tuition to Dale Carnegie Training and $3,550 Miss Arizona Organization/Miss Arizona Legacy Scholarship.