year physical therapy student Jana Murrell signs
a head shot for 7-year-old fan Candace Quaites at
her send-off reception on March 23. Murrell will
compete in the Miss USA pageant in Baltimore on
April 11. She was crowned Miss Nebraska USA last
Photo by Angie Zegers
the 'PT' in pageantry
physical therapy students opt for sneakers and shorts in their
free time, but for Jana Murrell, it is all about the tiara and
When Murrell was young, she was a tall, shy athlete. Now, standing
5-foot 11-inches as the crowned Miss Nebraska USA, she is competing
for the title of Miss USA — not to be confused with the
Miss America Pageant.
The 23-year-old Creighton physical therapy student will compete
in the Miss USA pageant on April 11 in Baltimore.
At a send-off reception held March 23, Murrell posed for photos
and signed autographs for friends, family and fans.
She said she does not consider herself a celebrity.
“But it’s starting to feel that way,” Murrell
said. “It’s a little weird.”
In Murrell’s first pageant in 2002, she competed for the
title of Miss Nebraska USA and was named first runner-up. She
tried again the next year and was again named first runner-up.
However, the third time was the charm in the tiara for Murrell.
Murrell holds an exercise science degree, but she took a year
off from physical therapy school in order to prepare for the
She was hesitant about the decision at first, but Justin Wayne,
Murrell’s boyfriend of eight years, convinced her it was
an experience she should not miss.
According to Wayne, he told her not to worry about being away
while she is competing, because the two were apart while Wayne
was an undergrad at the University of Kansas.
Wayne said the journey has been hectic so far, but he is proud
There are some downfalls to her success, however, he said.
“You have people on the Internet looking at your girlfriend,”
Wayne will be supporting Murrell in Baltimore along with many
members of Murrell’s family, including her mother, Pam
Childs said that she has always supported anything Murrell wanted
“She just likes challenges,” Childs said.
Murrell’s 10-year-old brother, Bryan, will be watching
his sister from home.
“Something tells me she is going to win,” he said.
“She is one of a zillion.”
The Miss USA pageant will air April 11 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Supporters
can cast their votes for their 10 favorite contestants at covergirl.com/whatsnew/2005_missusa.