Deidre Downs, Miss America 2005, is certainly no under-achiever.
Downs, 24, a resident of Birmingham, will begin medical studies at the University of Alabama School of Medicine next year. She was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist and an Echols Scholar at University of Virginia. She attended Samford University in Birmingham Alabama, from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's in history.
An aspiring pediatrician, she will spend the next year working towards increasing awareness and community action towards her Miss America Platform, Curing Childhood Cancer.
With the title, Downs won a $50,000 scholarship to continue her education. She was crowned Miss America during final competition, airing live from Atlantic City on ABC television. She took the crown after a dramatic head-to-head talent competition, at which she performed the ballad "I'm Afraid This Must Be Love," to clinch victory - after a full week of preliminary competition in Atlantic City.
Downs also serves as the official national spokesperson for CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation, the organization supporting a network of doctors whose research has increased the childhood cancer survival rate to 78% overall and who treat 90% of children with cancer in North America.
Deidre is a remarkable young woman with a great sense of humor and energy. She travels over 20,000 miles a month and as Miss America 2005, is a great role model as demonstrated by her history of volunteerism and commitment to curing childhood cancer. She is an enthusiastic, genuine and persuasive speaker. She can speak on a variety of topics including pediatric cancer, education, women's issues, non-profit organizations, charity and more.
Her passion to help kids with cancer was ignited when she visited Camp Smile-a-Mile, a Birmingham summer camp for children with cancer. That experience inspired her to volunteer at the Children's Hospital of Alabama Cancer Unit. Seeing the positive effect working with the children and families had on herself, she created Making Miracles as a means for high school students to volunteer to work directly with childhood cancer patients.
The more she learned about pediatric cancer, the more she realized that research funding would be the key to making strides in treatment, detection and prevention. This understanding led her to shift the focus on Making Miracles from volunteerism to establishing a permanent funding source for research. Her creativity and innovation paid off in the form of Alabama's Curing Childhood Cancer license plate. Downs both designed the plate and worked diligently with the health care community, state legislature and the media to bring the program to fruition.
Deidre grew up an athlete and played a wide variety of sports. In fact, she started out going to college with the help of a volleyball scholarship, but quickly realized her educational aspirations were taking her in a different direction. She ultimately switched colleges and began participating in pageants as a means of funding her educational ambitions.
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