Miss America to return to PSU

Miss America’s future plans may resemble your own more than you think. In a phone interview on Thursday, Oct. 18, Katie Harman said her next goal in life is to graduate from college.To accomplish her goal, Harman will be returning to PSU for the winter term of 2003 to complete her Speech Communications and Vocal Performance degree.

“I miss the camaraderie, the professors. I liked the atmosphere.”

She also looks forward to her actual studies, which, she said, is one activity she is missing out on this year.

“I love learning,” she said. “If I can learn something every day, I’m doing OK. I miss that about this year.”

In the future, Harman hopes to use some of the $75,000 she earned from the pageant to pursue graduate work in bioethics.

Harman’s educational goals are high. But she doesn’t regret temporarily putting school aside to fulfill the responsibilities that come with being Miss America.

“I’m getting that life experience,” she said.

She is also educating herself through reading in her spare time.

“I like to read biographies. People’s lives are fascinating.”

Harman is currently reading the biography of Beverly Sills, a world-famous opera singer who raised over $80 million for causes concerning birth defects and Multiple Sclerosis. But Harman admires Sills for yet another reason than her renowned vocal skills and financial generosity.

“I find Sills influential simply because she was herself,” Harman said. “She was very motivated. And she wanted to perform for herself.”

Sills is only one of many of Harman’s role models.

“I look up to anyone who is willing to be themselves. So I have a lot of people I look up to.”

Harman finds Portlanders fit this mould of people willing to be themselves, which she can see in the way they dress.

“Portland has a very relaxed fashion sense. It’s unique to each person,” she said. “Portlanders accept style as an individual thing: whatever you choose to do, that is what is appropriate.”

This individualistic mind-set, she said, has influenced her own fashion style. The influence is apparent in her low-key apparel and minimal amount of makeup, both highlighting her own natural beauty instead of drawing attention to the clothing and makeup themselves.

“I know my style exemplified me,” she said. “(It’s important to have) confidence in personal style.”

Harman’s minimalist approach to style carries over to her social life. She doesn’t try to impress her friends with her new title.

“My friends will always know me as Katie,” she said. “This isn’t going to change me. I’m fitting in the role of Miss America – it’s not becoming me.”

Actually, not all Harman’s friends know her as Katie. Some of her friends, she said, call her “peanut” because of her small size: Harman is only five feet three inches tall.

Harman is taking advantage of her voice this year to tell others of the “power of positive thoughts,” a philosophy inspired by her Christian beliefs.

“A message I like to give everyone is a message of no regrets,” she said. Harman realizes we will always have regrets in our lives, but through positive thinking, she said, we can overcome them.

Harman hopes to continue to spread this message when she visits Afghanistan’s neighboring countries in the near future.