Local nurse competes for the title of Miss USA

Years of preparation have positioned a North Vernon native to shine in the national spotlight this weekend.

Morgan Abel, a 26-year-old nurse who works in the mental health unit at Columbus Regional Hospital, will represent Indiana in the Miss USA competition — with about 20 Hoosiers, including her parents and some co-workers, making the trip to Las Vegas to cheer her on.

Abel competes for the title at 7 p.m. Eastern time Sunday at the T-Mobile Arena, which seats about 20,000. The pageant will be telecast nationally on FOX.

“The smile has not come off my face,” Abel said of her experience so far, including public appearances, photo shoots and rehearsals.

“I finally made it,” she said.

Abel has competed in pageants for years, having been crowned Miss Teen Indiana USA in 2008 and winning the title of 2010 Miss Southern Indiana.

But the Miss USA pageant is a bit different, she said.

Through this competition, she wants people to learn more about Indiana and about her platform, which is promoting mental health, she said.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.