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River North woman vying for Miss USA crown Sunday

Stacie Juris

Stacie Juris

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Updated: June 15, 2013 9:22PM

For five years, Stacie Juris has gone to Las Vegas to sit in the audience and watch the Miss USA pageant. But Sunday night about 40 of the River North woman’s family members will be in the audience watching and cheering for her as she competes for the title.

Selected as Miss Illinois Teen USA in 2009 when she was a senior at Lincoln-Way East High School, then picked last December as Miss Illinois USA, the 22-year-old Juris said this year’s Las Vegas trip feels more like a vacation than work.

“It’s all so fresh and new,” she said of the experience so far.

Juris, who grew up in Tinley Park, arrived in Las Vegas on May 29 and has been rooming with Miss New York USA, Joanne Nosuchinsky.

Juris entered the Miss Illinois Teen USA competition when she was a sophomore, then again in her junior year, when she was picked as first runner-up.

“It was kind of on a whim, I had never done a pageant before,” Juris said of her first time in the teen pageant. “It seemed like, ‘Why not?’ ”

In 2011, she was also first runner-up in the Miss Illinois USA pageant, a precursor to the Miss USA competition.

Leading up to the pageant, contestants were asking family and friends to vote online — at — with the top vote-getters automatically being in the semifinals. Those votes aren’t the sole determining factor in whether a contestant makes the final cut, though.

“I’m hoping I won’t need the votes to get into the semifinals,” Juris said. “You can also be voted in by the judges.”

Before the pageant, the judges interview each contestant. During the pageant, which will be aired Sunday night by NBC, the women take part in swimsuit and evening gown competitions and face questions from the judges.

Though she has a fitness sponsor, Juris said she doesn’t do anything “really crazy” as far as a diet and exercise regimen to stay in top pageant condition.

“I will have chocolate now and then,” she said. “I don’t deprive myself.”

Her parents, Matthew and Kathy, and two younger sisters, 16-year-old Jodie, and Mallorie, 18, will be part of her cheering section. Mallorie just finished her senior year at Lincoln-Way North, and Juris said that being in Las Vegas forced her to miss her sister’s graduation.

“I’m really bummed out,” she said.

Her sisters have no plans to follow in their older sibling’s footsteps when it comes to pageants, Juris said.

“They’re more tomboys,” she said.

Juris is a junior at Columbia College, where she’s working toward a degree in fashion. She said she’s aiming to have her own dress boutique specializing in prom, bridal and pageant gowns and now has her own business, The Queen Team, working as a freelance hair stylist and makeup artist for proms and weddings around the area.

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