For Marina Harrison
, there's no place like home.Harrison
, who is Miss Maryland USA 2005, will be among the delegates representing 50 states plus the District of Columbia in the 54th Annual Miss USA® Competition.The pageant will take place at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on Monday, April 11 and will be broadcast live on NBC
from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m.
"It's really an honor to represent the state of Maryland and having this competition here is really special for me," said Harrison
."I found out in December that the event was being held in Baltimore, and I was ecstatic."
Harrison beat out 88 women from across to state to win the Miss Maryland USA 2005 title on December 5 in Bethesda, Maryland.The "crowning" moment afforded her
the opportunity to compete in the Miss USA pageant and the awarding of more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.
Eight judges will survey Harrison
and the other participants and evaluate them based upon three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview competition.
"I take it a little piece at a time," said Harrison
."It's one phase of competition at a time…one dress at a time.It's also about knowing my events and what's important to me. It's also very important to be relaxed.I've taken steps to make sure all of those things are in place."In addition to the watchful eyes of the judges who also include famed fashion designer Pamela Dennis, Raj Bhakta from NBC's "The Apprentice," model Nicola Breytanbach and Brody Hutzler from NBC's "Days of Our Lives," Harrison and the other contestants will also compete before a potential worldwide viewing audience of more than 250 million in 100 countries.
"Competing in front of all of the viewers doesn't place pressure on me because I won't see them all at one time," said Harrison
with a smile. Harrison entered her first pageant at the age of 21 when her parents informed her that she would not be able to continue her education at the University of Maryland without scholarship assistance.
Just 18 months and more than $52,000 in scholarships later, Harrison
, who is now 23, was crowned Miss Maryland 2003.Although she
did not win the Miss America title, Harrison
was third runner-up to Miss America 2004. "I just wanted to see what competing was like and walk away with something from my experience," recalled Harrison who works with the Maryland State Department of Education as a Communications and Youth Development Specialist.
...A College Park Scholar and May 2003 Lamda Pi Eta graduate of the University of Maryland, Harrison received her bachelor's degree in Communications/Public Relations with a minor in Government and Politics.
The Fort Still, Oklahoma native has dedicated her
life to promoting the value of public education.
"As a Communications and Youth Development Specialist for the Maryland State Department of Education
, I get to promote the great things that are happening here in Maryland public schools," said Harrison
"This is such a mementos event," said Harrison
."This goes on to Miss Universe which is huge, and exposure to Donald Trump is invaluable."
The reigning Miss USA Shandi Finnessey will crown her
successor at the conclusion of the two-hour primetime telecast.Harrison
hopes the crown will be placed upon her
"I know that this event is going to fly by, and I want to soak it all in," she
said with excitement.