Most students across the nation are making résumés and completing applications for part-time jobs and various internships to earn a little extra dough.
But when applying for her job, Eastern student Maria Montgomery will travel to Las Vegas, wear an evening gown and a swimsuit and answer interview questions on live television in hopes of earning a jewel-studded crown.
Montgomery, a sophomore communications disorders major from Danville, will represent the state of Kentucky in the 2009 Miss USA competition.
Montgomery is the youngest contestant in the pageant at 19, and will compete against 50 other women between the ages of 19 and 27. She traveled to Las Vegas to begin pageant training on Friday, April 3, made her first appearance before judges ten days later, and will appear live on NBC in over 125 countries in the finale on Sunday, April 19.
Montgomery said the work to get to this point started quite a while ago - around the age of 14, while watching her older sister compete in scholarship pageants.
"I wanted to start doing pageants after watching my sister do a few and I was drawn in…it was like any other hobby," Montgomery said. "I was stuck and got pageant fever. I just wanted to keep doing more and more."
Montgomery's sister, Tracy Meiers, a 22-year-old Eastern graduate student in the occupational therapy program, said she thought Montgomery…( notes on laptop)
Montgomery has earned six titles from pageant competition so far, including being crowned Miss Kentucky on Dec. 19, 2008, the stepping-stone to entrance in this year's Miss USA pageant.
Montgomery said she is prepared to compete in the evening wear portion, the swimsuit competition and even the interview segment should she make it as a top five finalist in the competition. However, according to the Miss USA website, the guidelines don't ask contestants to participate in a talent competition, like the Miss America pageant.
But Montgomery has refined a different kind of talent in preparing to compete in the national pageant - a keen sense of time management.
"My typical day is crazy," Montgomery said. "Pageants are my extra curricular…it's truthfully like a full-time job."
With her twelve hours of classes compressed into MWF courses, Montgomery said she has little time for anything but completing her workout regiment, rehearsing for the competition and completing her coursework.
Montgomery said physical fitness is key to winning the Miss USA competition and "that's the goal." She visits Eastern's gym whenever possible during the day to lift weights and do her favorite exercise, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes at the highest incline.
"It may be super early or late at night or a few minutes in between classes, but I try to do it as much as I can…you can see me at the gym here almost every day," she said. "Anything you can think to work out, I work out."
When Montgomery is not on campus working out, she travels four hours to work with a personal trainer supplied to her as a prize for winning Miss Kentucky. She also said she travels to Princeton and Nashville to work with dress designers and her pageant consultant, both typical ways she spends her Tuesdays and Thursdays when she's not in class.
"I travel so much - sometimes it feels like I live out of my car," she said.
Montgomery said that while she knew preparing for the Miss USA pageant would require a lot of traveling, she wanted to keep her student responsibilities one of her priorities. Instead of dedicating the semester to strictly pageant preparation, Montgomery said she chose to take a lower number of credit hours for the semester and is taking a class at the Danville campus, where she lives.
Montgomery said she once she completes her assignments for all her classes and arrives in Vegas, she will be looking forward to focusing on the competition itself.
"The goal is to go all the way and I believe with faith and hard work, it is more than possible," Montgomery said. "I'll take a deep breath, say a little prayer and have fun with it."