On June 19, Lauren Carter — recent college graduate, equestrian, nurse and jazz bassist — will represent Vermont in the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.
And by represent, we mean she's gonna slap the Aqua Net right off those other girls' shellacked heads. Then she'll wipe their Vaseline smiles clear off. Once Carter gets through with her strutting and opining about serious current events (perhaps about topics such as the Iraq), those other contestants will look about as charming as a toothless meth-head diving for half-smoked cigarettes and day-old crullers in a Dunkin' Donuts Dumpster.
We caught up with the Stowe native the day after she graduated from UVM to grill her on all things beauty pageant.
SEVEN DAYS: How did you first get into pageants?
LAUREN CARTER: I decided to enter my first pageant in 2009 as a Mother's Day present. It was junior year of college and I was your typical poor college student. I liked the idea of giving my mom a memory instead of an item. My mother was stunned when I told her! I was never your quintessential girly-girl and my decision really caught my family and friends off guard. Lucky for me, they rallied around me and became the best support network I could ask for. I was fourth runner-up my first year and won this year [in the Miss Vermont USA pageant]. Ironically, Miss USA 2011 is being held on Father's Day. Call me superstitious, but I think it is a sign of great things to come!
SD: How can you be a horse trainer, a jazz bassist a nurse and a beauty queen all at the same time?
LC: This year has been a tough balancing act, but luckily being a nurse has taught me excellent time management skills! Being a beauty queen is extremely time-consuming. There is little time to spare after accounting for pageant appearances and events, photo shoots, traveling, running millions of errands, practicing walking and staying in shape. Horses and music have always been a huge passion of mine, but both have unfortunately taken the back seat for a while due to pageants and my nursing career.
Throughout college, I competed on the UVM equestrian team while training other horses on the side. I have played guitar and bass since high school, although it is extremely difficult to do with these darn fake nails! I worked throughout college as a nursing assistant at Vermont Respite House and actually just graduated nursing school. What a crazy year it has been!
LC: I find these shows absolutely terrifying. I actually don't have cable, but even if I did, I don't think I would watch them. I grew up playing in the mud and chasing frogs. Kids need to be kids, not living Barbie dolls.
SD: What's your most recent Facebook status update?
LC: I update my Facebook quite often... friend me to see what I'm up to. My most recent update: "Now what? Gown fitting in MA, NYC on Tuesday!"
SD: Which do you prefer — Arab Spring or Irish Spring?
LC: Irish Spring sounds safer.
SD: Which state is going to give you the most competition at the Miss USA pageant, and would you be willing to spike her hairspray with maple syrup?
LC: Haha! I don't think I'll be spiking anybody's hairspray with maple syrup... clever idea, though! It is tough to get a sense of the competition until you actually meet the girls. I have met more than half of them already and they are a really great bunch of girls. I think the Miss USA pageant is fair game. We all have confidence, beauty and poise, but only one girl will get the crown on June 19.
The future Miss USA is in the middle.
SD: Do you think you're prettier than me?
LC: One of the most wonderful compliments I receive is this: "You are beautiful, inside and out." I think there is something huge to be said about inner beauty, and that prettiness comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Everybody is uniquely beautiful! (Ed. note — Lauren Carter is in fact WAY prettier than me.)
SD: Ok, bonus question — Did you wear your crown and sash with your cap and gown at graduation?
LC: I have a crown and sash, and I actually DID wear the sash at graduation. My family, peers, friends and professors have all been amazingly supportive throughout my journey. It has been a year of many accomplishments.
SD: And another bonus question. What are you going to do now that you've graduated?
LC: Many things! The day after graduation, I drove to Massachusetts to finish getting my pageant gown fitted. The next day I am en route to New York City for a Miss USA media tour that includes the "Today" show, "LIVE! with Regis and Kelly," and "Fox & Friends," as well as volunteer events with the USO. I leave for Miss USA on June 3 and the televised event is June 19 at 9 p.m. on NBC. I have so much to pack! We stay in Vegas under heavy chaperone supervision with the other pageant girls and participate in publicity events and appearances while rehearsing for the national pageant.
After June 19, I will either have another big crown on my head or be relaxing in Vermont after my whirlwind year. I have been accepted to UVM Graduate College as a nurse practitioner and should have my master's degree in a few years. I am very passionate about hospice care and hope to work as a nurse practitioner for the terminally ill. The possibilities are endless!
Photos via Lauren Carter and missuniverse.com, caption by Lauren Ober.