Huntington, Ind.—Huntington University alumna Susan Guilkey competed for the Miss America crown on Saturday, and while she may not have walked away with the top prize, she maintains her focus on the future.
"The Miss America journey (is) completed. It doesn't mean my Miss Indiana duties will be abandoned. And I will probably go back to graduate school at Purdue University in professional communications. Either that, or I'll look for a job," Guilkey told an Indianapolis Star reporter.
Miss Oklahoma, Jennifer Berry, was crowned Miss America. Miss Georgia, Monica Pang, was named first runner-up, and Miss Alabama, Alexa Jones, was awarded second runner-up.
Miss Indiana's friends at Huntington University were in full support of the 22 year-old on pageant night. The Student Activities Board showed Miss America on the big screen TV in the Huntington Union Building. Some students opted to have floor parties in their residence halls to watch the event. Katie Jo Brown, a sophomore elementary education major from Eaton Rapids, Mich., cheered on Guilkey with 10 of her floor friends.
“There aren’t a lot of people that are going to be around this weekend since it is break, but the ones that are will probably be watching the pageant. I know the girls on my floor are looking forward to it. It will be really neat to see someone that we know on TV doing something so great,” she said.
Guilkey, a Noblesville, Ind., native and 2005 graduate with a major in communication studies, has earned the support and admiration of her professors.
“Susan has excellent communication skills. I’m sure she will represent herself well in all areas of the competition — especially in her musical abilities and verbal abilities. She is a terrific team player and well liked by everyone,” said Dr. Lance Clark, assistant professor of communication.
“She’s a wonderful communicator. Like other students who excel at public speaking, she knows how to put content and delivery together in a convincing fashion. But then there is this charisma — almost a glow — in her delivery that makes her speaking stand out,” said Dr. Kevin Miller, assistant professor of communication.
Nate Perry, assistant director of enrollment, has been impressed by Guilkey’s growth from student to graduate.
“She served on our student Admissions staff and although very busy as a student, still gave tours and hosted perspective students and families. She’s an amazing and down-to-earth woman who has a huge heart for people but most importantly her God. She lives that out every day,” he said.
Guilkey’s journey toward the crown has been an extremely hectic one. She arrived in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday, January 10, 2006, and spent a whirlwind week on a media tour. She appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and KTLA Morning News, toured the back lot of Universal Studios while being filmed by “Extra,” and met honorary Hollywood mayor Johnny Grant for the declaration of “Miss America Day.”
From L.A., she traveled on one of three luxury buses transporting contestants to Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, January 14, 2006. The buses, provided by Country Music Television – the channel carrying the pageant – are wrapped with Miss America pictures and logos. The top of each bus features a sash that proclaims, “The next Miss America is on this bus!”
Contestants were greeted with a red carpet roll-out and an audience of approximately 1,000 people at the Aladdin Resort & Casino, the site for the pageant.
“Many people don’t understand Miss America. They think it’s just a beauty pageant, but it’s so much more than that. CMT has given us the opportunity to show what talented, amazing, and brilliant women our contestants are,” said Jenni Glenn, director of communications for Miss America.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, contestants participated in preliminary competitions. Miss South Carolina, Erika Grace Powell; Miss Utah, Julia Marie Bachison; Miss Oklahoma, Jennifer Berry; Miss Virginia, Krisit Lauren Glakas; Miss District of Columbia, Shannon Schambeau; Miss California, Dustin-Leigh Konzelman were all named winners.
CMT and VH1 will re-air the event at various times. Check your local listings.
For more information about Guilkey or the pageant, log on to www.missamerica.org, http://www.cmt.com/shows/events/miss_america/2006/index.jhtml, http://www.missindianapageant.com/missinblog/, or http://www.huntington.edu/alumni/profiles/commstudies_alum_guilkey.htm.
For photos of Guilkey from the pageant, click on one of the following links:
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