Discover UCO’s Miss America
“Lights, Camera, Action, Hi and welcome to Discover Oklahoma I’m Lauren Nelson,” that is how Lauren Nelson greets her audience on Discover Oklahoma on Saturdays at 6 pm on Oklahoma City’s KFOR.
That isn’t how Nelson got her claim to fame though, she is most known for winning the crown of Miss America in 2007.
“It really was a dream come true,” said Lauren Nelson
Nelson started her pageant career when she was 16-years-old. Her first taste of major success in pageants was in 2004, where she won the crown of Miss Teen Lawton. Then later that year she also won Miss Teen Oklahoma. To add onto her success in 2004, she walked away with the crown of Miss Oklahoma state fair.
Two years later, Nelson took a giant step in the world of pageants being crowned Miss Oklahoma in 2006. She was the youngest to ever be named Miss Oklahoma at 19-years-old. Since Nelson won the crown it earned her a spot in the competition for Miss America and was awarded a $16,000 scholarship.
Nelson competed against 49 other women from different states to take home the crown of Miss America in 2007. She was the sixth person from Oklahoma to win the honor. One of the prizes of her winning Miss America was a $50,000 scholarship.
“It probably was one of the scariest moments and one of the most exciting moments of my life to that point,” said Nelson
Her stage performance was singing You’ll be in my Heart by Phil Collins.
“The reason I got into pageants is because I like to sing,” said Nelson.
Her platform for the pageant was Be NetSmart an organization to protect kids on the internet.
“Internet Safety for kids was an important issue and it still is,” said Nelson.
She went undercover as a minor to help catch child predators on the TV show Americas Most Wanted. Nelson had to chat and make phone calls with the child predators to help lure them in to be arrested.
“It was scary,” said Nelson.
Before winning Miss Oklahoma and Miss America Nelson was attending the University of Central Oklahoma. She was in her sophomore year when she won Miss America. After she won both crowns Nelson was forced to put college aside because her schedule was so demanding of her time.
When Nelson’s reign was over she returned to UCO and majored in Music theater but later changed her major to Public Relations.
“I felt like I had some experience with Public Relations through the pageant,” said Nelson.
Nelson performed in several musical productions at UCO. She was one of two freshman to perform in the play Pajama Game, and also performed in the production Hot N? Cole: A Cole Porter Celebration.
“I loved the professors and I loved the music theater department,” Nelson said. “That’s really what brought me to UCO.”
UCO has had a major impact on Nelson’s life. It is where she met her husband and even got her first job out of College working for former UCO President Webb.
“UCO has changed my Life,” said Nelson.
During her reign as Miss America, Nelson appeared on Jeff Foxworthy’s show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.
She decided to drop out of the game and say, “I’m Lauren Nelson. I’m Miss America, and I’m not smarter than a fifth grader.”
Nelson didn’t walk home empty handed though, with 175,000 dollars. All of her winnings on the show went to the Miss America Scholarship Foundation.
Her first job in television was co-anchoring the 4 pm newscast with Robin Marsh at KWTV News9 in Oklahoma City. She worked at KWTV for three years, she had to leave though when she got pregnant and decided she could only work part-time.
So she was offered a part-time position as a reporter for Discover Oklahoma, where she would be promoted a few years later to Co-anchor.
“It’s awesome,” said Nelson ” I get to see the best of what this state has to offer.”
It might have been ten years since Nelson won Miss America, but she is still making an impact on the pageant scene by befriending and guiding current Miss UCO Lacey Williams.
“Lauren is a wonderful role model for young women,” Said Williams.
Williams and Nelson have even become personal friends with Williams attending church with Nelson and her Family.
“Lauren reaches out to so many young women at our church, it is great having someone to look up to like her,” Said Williams.