The newly crowned Miss USA, Sarah Summers, has already moved into her new apartment in New York City and become acquainted with her roommate, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who also happens to be Miss Universe.
But it was not that long ago that the 23-year-old Summers was a student at TCU, where the Omaha native graduated cum laude with separate degrees in child development and strategic communication, with a business minor.
Summers became the first Miss Nebraska to win the title when she was crowned Miss USA on May 21 at George's Pond, Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana.
The event featured women representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia and aired live on FOX.
Summers joined us during her whirlwind media tour — which included "Good Morning America," "Inside Edition" and "Live with Kelly and Ryan" — to discuss being crowned Miss USA and to reminisce about her time in Fort Worth.
What made you decide to compete for Miss Nebraska in the first place?
It has always been a dream of mine to compete at Miss USA, and I knew that I wanted to do that after college, when I was a little more established. I finished at TCU last May in 2017. Then I went to Alaska to do cognitive research with children in the welfare system up there through the [Karyn Purvis] Institute of Child Development at TCU. Then I did my clinical rotation in Oklahoma and that concluded in December, so the timing really was perfect to fulfill this dream that I've had since I was a little girl. In January, I competed for Miss Nebraska and now here we are.
Describe the feeling when you found out that you had won Miss USA.
When I heard Nebraska called, it was all a blur. I remember everything leading up to that, I was very present in the moment throughout the whole night from the 15 to the 10 to the five to the three. At the top five, I was the most at peace because I am friends with those girls and I knew that whoever won has a good heart, a good message and good intentions to use all 365 days of this year. When Nebraska was called, however, I don't really remember it, but I've seen the moment. I've watched it today and even though I hadn't seen it, I lived it and even though I blurred it all out, I knew that I had dropped to the ground and I remember Kára (Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough) saying "Can I crown you now?" I did see some photos where I had tears down my face and I don't remember crying.
Have you had a chance to think about what it will be like to live in New York City during your reign?
I'm actually already here. Last night I moved in. I live with Miss Universe, that's my roommate and she is just as sweet as can be. I was shocked to find out that she's younger than me. Her name is Demi and she's from South Africa, so I'm hoping to get to learn so much from her about her culture and all the traveling she's done. Last night I moved in with the luggage I had brought to Shreveport for Miss USA, but I'll have an official homecoming where I will be able to go home and grab the rest of my belongings that I will need for the year. When Demi was showing me the air and heat, she mentioned how cold it is here in the winter and it hit me that I'm going to be living in New York City and I was speechless.
Miss Universe is Nov. 26 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Is it safe to assume that your love of fitness will play a big role in the preparation for the big night?
Well, I taught Pilates while I was in college and I also went to ZYN 22 right there on West 7th [in Fort Worth], where Mark Page and his team were so supportive. They believed in me and my dreams. I'm really excited to explore the different fitness culture here in New York City. It may sound silly, but I love that stuff. It's how I release my endorphins and stay sane and I really look forward to seeing Central Park and using fitness as an avenue to help me get ready for Miss Universe.
You're a child life specialist? What does that entail?
My first degree from TCU was strategic communication in PR and marketing with a business minor and I thought that I would do some type of public relations or marketing, something in that type of role with a children's hospital. I have always wanted to work in a children's hospital. I was hospitalized as a child for a short time and volunteered at hospitals growing up through junior high and high school. I knew that was where I wanted to be, but I knew that I didn't necessarily have the desire and science background to be on the medical side, so I started volunteering at Cook's Children's Hospital. I love them, they are amazing and that is where I was introduced to the field of child life. What we do is wear a lot of different hats as we are the liaison between the children and their families and the medical team. I completed my clinical rotation, my first round at Children's Health in Dallas last spring. I would go over there on Tuesdays and Thursdays and was at TCU on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In the fall, I completed my full-time, 640 clinical at the OU Children's Hospital. Then I took my certification exam in April and thank goodness, I passed.
As part of you being a health and fitness enthusiast, you help people get over eating disorders?
I have had friends and family members struggle with various eating disorders from binging and bulimia to anorexia, but I was able to see on in-patient unit, it's not just the types of demographic you would think. I'vr seen as young as 6 years old and males with eating disorders for so many different reasons. One person dies every 60 seconds from an eating disorder and that is a terrible statistic that really needs to change. I am looking forward to bringing it to light on a larger platform this year and discuss warning signs and ways to combat it with your friends or yourself.
You also studied abroad in Peru while at TCU?
For my business minor, I studied abroad with the Neely School of Business in Peru and it was the best decision I made in college. If I can give any Horned Frog or any college student anywhere advice, it's to study abroad. I didn't want to go in the fall because I didn't want to miss Horned Frogs football, but I wish I had gone for a whole semester. My one regret of college is that I did a May-mester in Peru, but my time in Peru was so perfect, it was the first time I felt truly independent as a young woman and got to embrace a different culture. I call it more of an adventure abroad.
Let's talk a little Fort Worth. What made you originally decide to come to TCU?
I was born and raised in Nebraska, love Nebraska, but I knew that I wanted to go out of state for college knowing I could always return home. My dad said I could apply anywhere that had a direct flight from home and being from Omaha, there's not a lot of places with direct flights. I had a friend at Baylor and my dad said let's stop at this other school TCU on the way. I visited and I loved it and made it my priority to go there.
Do you have any favorite Fort Worth restaurants from your time here?
For big groups, I love Joe T.'s of course. It's so fun, great environment and there's nothing like it anywhere. I also loved getting sushi on the rooftop at Kona Grill [at] West 7th. I'm a huge HG Sply Co. fan. I also loved Press Cafe right off the river.
What do you miss most about Fort Worth?
I miss the food, I do. I miss the community that I had at TCU, at my job at Lululemon in University Park Village and at ZYN, All of those people really took me in like a family and I found my first group of true friends at TCU. I also miss Watermark, I taught the pre-school Sunday schools there. I was also really involved on campus with Ignite Ministries and my sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha.
Since you'll travel around the country as part of being Miss USA, do you envision a scenario where you come back to visit Fort Worth?
I don't know my schedule quite yet; first I have to set up a homecoming back to Nebraska and maybe the DFW area would be on the map at some point. Maybe I'll get to come for a football game or something, I'll have to try and make that happen.
Yes and maybe a Dallas Cowboys game. I also worked for the Cowboys on the promotions team while I was there. Growing up in Nebraska, you're a Cornhusker through and through, but we don't have professional sports, so when I moved here, I embraced the Cowboys. My job with the Cowboys involved lots of interaction with fans and sponsors and partners on game days and that's what my daily life will now look like as Miss USA.