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MSU student to compete in Miss USA pageant

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A Montana State University student who took leave to reign as Miss Montana 2009 and then Miss Montana USA 2011 will soon compete in the Miss USA pageant.

Brittany Wiser, one of at least five pageant winners who attend MSU or live in southwest Montana, said she will head to Las Vegas in early June for preliminary judging and other activities related to the 60th annual Miss USA pageant. The top 15 contestants will compete June 19 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Miss USA will be crowned that evening, with the pageant airing on NBC.

“This will probably be my last pageant. I think I’m done after that,” Wiser said. “But I will probably always be involved with pageants. Once you are in it, you are always in it. It’s so addicting.”

An aspiring physician on leave from MSU’s pre-medical post-baccalaureate program, Wiser has spent time in Los Angeles and elsewhere this spring to attend workshops and participate in other activities that will prepare her for the Miss USA contest. In late May, she flew to New York City to appear with other contestants on national television, and built bicycles for children whose parents are serving overseas in the military. The bicycle-build is part of the 70th anniversary of the United Service Organizations (USO), which supports American troops.

The Miss USA pageant is a beauty pageant that calls for her to model a swimsuit and evening gown, perform in an opening number with other contestants, and answer judges’ questions that are designed to bring out her personality, Wiser said. The winner will compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Brazil in September.

The Miss USA contest is a beauty pageant, while the Miss America pageant is a scholarship program, Wiser said. Miss America contestants present an individual talent number and answer questions related to current events. Winners receive scholarships. Last year’s prize package for Miss USA included a one-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy, a year-long salary as Miss USA, luxury accommodations in a New York City apartment, a modeling portfolio from leading fashion photographer Fadil Berisha, and more.

Wiser had never participated in a pageant before she was crowned Miss Montana 2009, but she said she used to watch beauty pageants on TV and tell herself, “I could do this.” She noted that pageants are a way to channel the many interests she has in addition to becoming a general practitioner.

She decided to try for the Miss Montana USA title after completing her one-year term as Miss Montana 2009 and talking to one of her many pageant friends, Wiser said. Crowned Miss Montana USA in September 2010, Wiser said she has heard that she is the only Montanan to be named Miss Montana and then Miss Montana USA.

Wiser noted that MSU and southwest Montana have become pageant powerhouses in recent years, and she is friends with four of those winners. Destiny Schuck of Billings, an MSU student majoring in nutrition, was Miss Earth Montana 2010. Kacie West of Kalispell, an MSU student in elementary education, is Miss Montana 2010. Wendy Brown of Belgrade was Mrs. Montana 2010. Amy Fox of Belgrade is Miss Montana’s Outstanding Teen. Her term ends in June.

Fox credits the royal upsurge in the area to Wiser and the proximity of MSU. She said Wiser promotes pageants, which makes more young women aware of them. She said young women who attend college or plan to attend are realizing they might be able to pay for their education by competing in pageants.

Schuck commented that Wiser is “a really cool girl,” who inspires other young women to enter pageants. Besides that, pageants are “such a fun thing,” Schuck said.

Wiser, the daughter of Lee and Betty Wiser of Bozeman, attended Heritage Christian School in Bozeman through sixth grade, Headwaters Academy through eighth grade and Bozeman High School for 1 ½ years. At age 14, she switched to MSU and used her MSU credits to earn a diploma from the University of Oklahoma High School. She then enrolled at the University of Denver and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 2009.

After returning to Bozeman in 2009, Wiser submitted her resume for the Miss Montana Scholarship Program and entered the pre-medical post-baccalaureate program at MSU. The program is designed for students who didn’t earn their undergraduate degree in the sciences, but have since decided to pursue health care, mostly medical school.

Evelyn Boswell

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