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VOLUME 85 ISSUE 19 - April 1, 2005 - OMAHA, NEBRASKA
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Second 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 October.

Photo by Angie Zegers

Putting the 'PT' in pageantry

By Katie Ryan

Most physical therapy students opt for sneakers and shorts in their free time, but for Jana Murrell, it is all about the tiara and heels.

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 pageant.

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 of her.

There are some downfalls to her success, however, he said.

“You have people on the Internet looking at your girlfriend,” Wayne said.

Wayne will be supporting Murrell in Baltimore along with many members of Murrell’s family, including her mother, Pam Childs.

Childs said that she has always supported anything Murrell wanted to do.

“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