04/17/12 Nicole Rash from St. Louis, Missouri was crowned Ms. America® 2012 at the national pageant held Sunday, April 15th at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort in Anaheim, California.

State and regional titleholders from across the United States competed in five categories including interview, sportswear, fashion wear, evening gown and on-stage question.  2012 Ms. America® Nicole Rash’s walk across the stage to accept the crown marked her first steps on a journey that will take her from spotlight to spotlight representing the American woman 26 years of age and up who are single, divorced or married.

Rash, a Saint Louis, Missouri transplant, is originally from the small town of Plymouth, Indiana.  Her parents are Bill and Cindy Rash. She was Miss Indiana 2007, and received first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant in 2008. She is currently employed as a model, actress, and corporate spokesperson, and will complete her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Ball State University in May.

Rash is also a philanthropist and is especially passionate about her platform of service “Breath Easy – Keeping our Youth Smoke and Tobacco Free.” After losing 3 of her grandparents to smoking related illness, her cause is close to her heart and she has spoken to over 25,000 students so far about staying smoke free.  She has her motorcycle license and has owned 3 motorcycles, she grew up on a farm in rural Indiana where they raise cows, and she is a Presidential Scholarship Winner and will graduate with an overall 3.85 GPA.

As Ms. America® 2012, Rash is honored to represent an organization that enriches the lives of women across the country and is passionate about continuing to give back to others through philanthropic endeavors and being the inspiration that helps others achieve their dreams.

Major sponsors of the 2012 Ms. America® Pageant are Doubletree Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort, Commercial Bank of California, Superior Wall Systems Inc., Orrick Herrington & Suitcliff, The Hoagy Co., Inc., The Anaheim White House, and MsBellezza Jewelry.

Ms. America® 2012 first runner-up was Lana Henry, Ms. Southern California; second runner-up was Stephanie Mills, Ms. New England; third runner-up was Laura Hunter, Ms. Washington; and fourth runner-up was Carla Gonzalez, Ms. Oklahoma.

The 2012 Ms. America International, the People’s Choice Award went to Carla Gonzalez.  This prestigious title must not only represent the pageant but also the Ms. America® fans as well.  Gonzalez was chosen by receiving the most votes online. Richard Simon from Houston, Texas founded The Ms. America® Pageant in 1997. The first pageant was held on December 4, 1997 at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. Contestants competed representing their state in the pageant. Susan Jeske from Colorado was crowned the first Ms. America®.  Ms. Jeske became the owner of the pageant in 1999.