WILLISTON, N.D. - Annette Olson
works to fight diseases, and her
campaign as Miss North Dakota for the early detection of breast cancer has a personal connection.
"My grandmother and aunt both had breast cancer, and my grandmother died from it," said Olson
, who was crowned Miss North Dakota on Saturday night."It's really a personal issue because it runs in the family."Olson, 23, of Baldwin, is a field epidemiologist for the State Health Department in Bismarck.She
interviews patients who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer and other diseases linked to viruses.Olson
interviews the patients who have been diagnosed with one of the 60 reportable diseases in North Dakota, ranging from food diseases and sexually transmitted diseases, to the flu and West Nile virus cases.Her
platform as Miss North Dakota is promoting the early detection of breast cancer and cervical cancer.She
chose the title "Power of Prevention."
"I think the two things will mesh well, especially with my platform," Olson
said of her
Miss North Dakota title and her
plans to take her
message to schools starting in the fall.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," she
said."I'm going to focus on healthy choices, like food choices and the importance of exercise, because some of the components of cancer are preventable."Olson
also plans to speak with many women's groups.She
is well prepared for the public speaking aspect of her
role as Miss North Dakota 2007.
"I've had the opportunity to give presentations on infection control to doctors, nurses and dentists, which can be an intimidating crowd," she
said.Olson is a graduate of Concordia College, in Moorhead, Minn., with plans to get a doctorate in dental surgery.
"At this point, I plan on being in family dentistry," she
said."I would like to practice on an American Indian reservation for a few years."She
now works closely with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
"There is a real need there," she
said, referring to reservations."They do not have adequate health care, especially in dentistry."Olson
said preliminaries for the Miss America pageant will most likely be in late August or early September, in either Las Vegas or Nashville, with the finals likely in Las Vegas in January.
Olson's father, Randy, works at Falkirk Mine
near Underwood, and her
mother, SuAnn, is an accountant in Bismarck.She has two brothers, Christopher 19, a student at North Dakota State University, and Matthew, 16, a student at St. Mary's High School in Bismarck.She
younger brother recently started racing stock cars.
thought since I was Miss North Dakota now, it would be cool if I would be in the Powder Puff races (all-women races)," she
might consider it.
"We had gotten especially close last week," Olson