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January 12, 2011

ULM's Kelsi Crain vies for Miss America crown with week of preliminaries

ULM's Kelsi Crain, Miss Louisiana 2010, went before a panel of Miss America Pageant judges on Monday, Jan. 10, as she began preliminary competition for the annual event.

The junior kinesiology major from Monroe made the trip to Las Vegas last Thursday, Jan. 6, to vie for a new title and crown this weekend as she competes in the 2011 Miss America Pageant finals beginning at 7 p.m. CST, on Saturday, Jan. 15.

"She felt like everything went really well with the judges for the interview," reported Darris Waren, Miss Louisiana Organization vice president. "They asked about her platform, Heart for the Arts, and of course, that gave her ample opportunity to share all that she had done this year to encourage Louisiana's children to make the right decisions throughout their lives."

Crain was also asked about two national news stories affecting Louisiana and their long-lasting ramifications – Hurricane Katrina and, more recently, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The twenty-year-old told judges she was able to personally tour the BP Command Center and see firsthand the affected wetland area, as well as visit with south Louisianan fishermen to hear their emotional take on the spill that has affected hundreds of livelihoods.

This year's panel of judges include: Joy Behar, co-host of ABC's The View and host of The Joy Behar Show on HLN; Miss America 1990 Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, a veterinary doctor, motivational speaker and broadcast journalist; Marc Cherry, creator and executive producer for the ABC network; Tony Dovolani, competitive ballroom dancer and judge on the hit ABC series, Dancing with the Stars; actress and movie star Marilu Henner; Taryn Rose, an orthopedic surgeon turned shoe designer; and multi-platinum selling country music star Mark Wills.

Crain's preliminary competition schedule included a performance of her talent on Tuesday, a dance en point to "Victory" by the string quartet, Bond.

"She performed her talent very well, although she did not win that portion of the preliminaries," said Waren, adding that on Wednesday, Crain will have her on-stage question, followed by Thursday's Swimsuit and Evening Gown competition.

Not that the competition has been all work and no play. Crain and the other contestants enjoyed a performance by singer and songwriter Barry Manilow and also participated in a fashion show. A contingent of Crain's family and other supporters travelled to the 2011 Miss America Pageant this week, held again this year at the Planet Hollywood Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

"She's having a great time and is very upbeat," said Waren. "Of course, Kelsi is always so gracious and happy to see so many people come out to support her as she competes."

Before taking the Miss Louisiana crown, Crain was named Miss University of Louisiana at Monroe in October 2009. On June 16, 2010, Crain earned the state title and has been diligently working ever since to prepare for the national crown.

The Miss America Organization is one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance.

The Miss Louisiana Organization has a volunteer based board of directors that works to share the accomplishments of the 29 contestants and provide scholarships to further their education.

In 2009-10, the Miss Louisiana Organization made available over 1.2 million dollars in cash and tuition scholarships. Miss America offers over 45 million dollars in cash and scholarships, making them the number one provider of scholarships to young women in the world.

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