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MIT senior to vie for Miss Massachusetts title before entering medical school

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- One week after receiving her MIT degree, Susan Rushing will compete against 17 other women for the title of Miss Massachusetts on June 11-12 at Bristol Community College in Fall River. The winner receives a $9,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete for the Miss America title in Atlantic City in September.

Ms. Rushing, who receives the SB in brain and cognitive science, plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in the fall. She qualified for the Miss Massachusetts pageant by winning the Miss Bay State 1999 title on April 25 at North Attleboro High School. In 1997, she was a finalist in the Miss Maryland contest after being named Miss Frederick (MD) and receiving a $3,500 scholarship.

In winning the Miss Bay State title, Ms. Rushing performed "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera ("It has a long run at the end and a really dramatic high note"). She will sing "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi in the Miss Massachusetts contest, the aria she performed when she won the Miss Frederick title.

Ms. Rushing entered the Maryland contests when a former high school teacher, himself a pageant director, suggested she compete for the scholarship money. "I wasn't thrilled about the swimsuit part," she said. "While they say it's for visual observation of muscle tone, I believe there are better ways to measure fitness." In the Miss Massachusetts contest, she plans to wear a one-piece bathing suit again. "I sometimes dream about breaking into a Tae Bo move in the middle of the competition, as if to say, 'If you want to see muscle tone, here it is,'" said Ms. Rushing, an avid aerobics exerciser.

Ms. Rushing, a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship and a Truman Scholarship, served on the MIT Working Group on Binge Drinking. In addition to being a member of the revived cheerleading squad this year, she has performed with the Ballroom Dance Team.

She completed high school in three years and spent her senior year as an intern at the National Cancer Institute studying lymphoma in AIDS patients and cancer cell initiation. She published two articles while working there. She plans to do community outreach work for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) this summer.

A dramatic soprano, Ms. Rushing started studying voice in the eighth grade. At 16, she was the youngest member of the Maryland Lyric Opera and has toured extensively in Europe and the United States. Although she had an opportunity to attend the Juilliard School in New York, Ms. Rushing came to MIT, where she was active in the Vocal Music Scholars program. She gave a recital in MIT's Killian Hall on May 22.

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