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Miss USA contender Kamryn Blackwood, a Nova Southeastern University grad, has a giving spirit

 

Special to the Miami Herald

She’s an athlete, a humanitarian, an accomplished student and a beauty queen.

Kamryn Blackwood, 22, who graduated in May from Nova Southeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, is in Baton Rouge, La., this weekend where she is competing for the Miss USA crown. The pageant will be televised by NBC on Sunday, starting at 8 p.m.

Blackwood, a 5-foot-7 former tennis player at NSU, is originally from Farmington, N.M. She won Miss Farmington and Miss New Mexico, qualifying her for Sunday’s event. She was also named Miss Congeniality by her peers at the state competition.

She is a natural competitor, having won a gymnastic all-around title at age 8 before switching to tennis.

A three-sport standout at Farmington High — she also competed in soccer and basketball — Blackwood went 67-0 in doubles during her prep tennis career.

Blackwood has also shown a very giving spirit. Last summer, she visited an orphanage in Kisumu, Kenya, where virtually every child had AIDS, and there weren’t enough funds to feed them more than three times all week.

“We loved these kids,” Blackwood told the Miami Herald recently. “As much as we were helping them, they were teaching us.”

Blackwood and a team of about 19 others used sticks and mud to build 10 homes during their stay as part of a project called Houses of Hope.

“It was emotional,” she said. “Every one of us had tears in our eyes at some point on this trip.

“We should be grateful every day. You may not have a great job in America, but you are still here. These people we met in Kenya had nothing, but they were still happy. They didn’t speak English except they were constantly saying ‘thank you.’ 

Blackwood plans on becoming an FBI agent. But she would love to stay involved with the people of Africa.

“I want to go back so bad,” she said. “It was life-changing.”

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