Seymour's Katie Stam wins Miss America

Seymour's Katie Stam wins Miss America
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Las Vegas - Miss Indiana Katie Stam was crowned Miss America 2009 in Las Vegas on Saturday night, fighting off a throat infection, laryngitis and 51 other contestants to win the 88-year-old pageant's title.

The 22-year-old University of Indianapolis student became the first Miss America winner from the Hoosier State. She drew loud applause for her rendition of "Via Dolorosa" during the talent portion of the beauty pageant at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Stam said she had trouble sleeping one night during the week while she took prescription medicine to fight the infection, but had her voice back by Thursday.

"I was feeling like myself again - I will never take my health for granted," Stam said.

The Seymour native strutted onstage in a black bikini and an off-the-shoulder, white lace evening gown. During the interview portion of the competition she decried the use of performance-enhancing drugs among professional athletes and discussed the definition of glamour.

"That beauty that you feel on the inside, it's that confidence, that radiance inside of you, that's what glamour is," Stam said.

Stam, who won a $50,000 scholarship, hopes to obtain a bachelor's degree in communications with a goal of becoming a television news anchor. She interned at WTHR in 2007 and began competing in pageants at age 15.

Stam was crowned by reigning Miss America Kirsten Haglund of Michigan and will soon embark on a year of travel and public appearances.

Her parents were in the crowd when she was announced the winner.

"I'm very proud of my parents. I'm very, very blessed," she said on stage.

Stam said she had one semester left in school - but didn't know when she would finish - and already was graduating debt free without the $50,000 prize. Stam said she might use the money for graduate school.

"I've been looking forward to coming to Miss America my entire life. I always knew watching the Miss America program that the contestants are just going to be so amazing," Stam told Eyewitness News in an interview earlier this week.

She competed with a platform of community service.

Her other campus activities have included chairing the student government's Service and Philanthropy Committee. She has organized fund-raisers to aid the homeless and the Ronald McDonald House at Riley Hospital for Children.

In October, Stam will direct UIndy's annual Super Saturday of Service, when hundreds of students perform volunteer work around the city at sites recommended by the United Way.

The first runner-up was Miss Georgia Chasity Hardman.

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