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Published September 16, 2013, 09:52 AM

Grand Forks native makes her mark at Miss America pageant

Miss North Dakota Laura Harmon of Grand Forks didn’t become Miss America or make the first cut to 15 semifinalists Sunday night.

By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald

Miss North Dakota Laura Harmon of Grand Forks didn’t become Miss America or make the first cut to 15 semifinalists Sunday night.

But she did manage to get in a plug for her state’s strong economy just minutes into the two-hour telecast from Atlantic City, N.J.

The show began with the traditional parade of state winners, where each contestant introduces herself and her state in a humorous or attention-grabbing manner.

Harmon’s self-introduction was: “From the state with the lowest unemployment, I’m looking for a job tonight.”

The Miss America winner was Nina Davuluri of New York. The other four finalists were Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh, Miss California Crystal Lee, Miss Oklahoma Kelsey Griswold and Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones.

The 53 contestants were viewed by a crowd of 18,000 in the auditorium and an estimated television audience of 8 million. With preliminary competitions held in the past week, the field was narrowed to 15 contestants 20 minutes into the telecast.

Fargo’s Roxanna Saberi, in 1997, is the last Miss North Dakota to advance to the second round. Saberi became nationally known in 2009, when she was a journalist who was imprisoned in Iran for four months.

Harmon, 24, won the Miss North Dakota title in June, on her fourth try. She will travel across the state, mostly to schools to bring a message to students, until the 2014 Miss North Dakota pageant in June.

The 2007 Red River High School graduate will retire from pageants then, as candidates become ineligible for Miss America consideration at age 25.

Harmon, a UND student, is the daughter of Mark and Linda Harmon of Grand Forks.

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