Miss Puerto Rico Mariselle Morales made her way to the 2011 Miss America pageant via UT Knoxville.The 2008 graduate won the Miss Puerto Rico pageant in July 2010.
Morales grew up in South Florida and loved to swim, so she began to follow UT’s women’s swim team. When she came to Knoxville to visit the university during her senior year of high school, she knew UT was for her.
“It was the only school I applied to,” she said. “I had an amazing time and I absolutely loved it.”
Morales got a bachelor’s degree in political science, and although she was not on the swim team, she worked as a lifeguard at TRECS. She lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, working as a professional model, pursuing a record deal, and representing the Miss America organization. She plans to attend the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music to earn a graduate degree.
As the only UT graduate in the 2011 Miss America lineup, Morales said she was determined to show her support for the Vols. Pageant organizers asked contestants to bring T-shirts from their colleges and universities to wear for part of the show. Morales took several.
“I wanted to be decked out in orange,” she said.