MARQUETTE - Jimme Vereb isn't resting on her laurels.
The new Miss Upper Peninsula USA is already hard at work, preparing for the next level of competition: The Miss Michigan USA pageant this summer.
Crowned at the local level on March 22, the 22-year-old is enthusiastically working on being ready for what is to come.
From left, Brittany Cappoferri of Negaunee, first runner-up; Jimme Vereb of Marquette, Miss Upper Peninsula USA winner; and Taylor Blackmore of Marquette, second runner-up. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Wiles Photography)
Jimme Vereb is crowned as Miss Upper Peninsula 2014 by Miss Upper Peninsula USA?2013 Taylor Kulju at the pageant March 22. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Wiles Photography)
"I will definitely continue to keep in touch with my coach, Mandy Carrier," Vereb said. "She has been a contestant in the state pageant herself. I am going to work on my walk, on how I carry myself. I want to get better with interview questions. And I am going to be seeking more sponsors."
Born in Ishpeming, Vereb lived in a number of different states in her younger years due to her father, Jim Vereb's career as a traveling nurse.
"We traveled to Washington and to Maine," she said. "But we came back to this area because all of our family was here. I was 10 when we moved back."
Coming April 12: Meet Miss Upper Peninsula Teen USA Brooke Brauer
Her parents, Jim and Laura Vereb, live in Skandia. Jimme has an older brother, Steven Gutierrez, and her grandmother, Suzanne Bjorne, lives in Marquette.
Homeschooled as a youth, Vereb is a student at Northern Michigan University, studying community health education. A dean's list student, Vereb was named the university's Volunteer of the Month back in October 2012.
Being in the pageant wasn't something Vereb had thought about doing, but someone suggested she think about participating.
"I thought it would be fun so I decided to try it," she said. "It was fun."
Her boss at Doncker's suggested Vereb contact Carrier for some guidance.
"Mandy was recommended to me," Vereb said. "She had won Miss U.P. Teen back in 2004 and had competed at the state level several times. She was great about telling me what to expect. She was very, very encouraging."
Vereb and Brooke Brauer - who was crowned Miss Upper Peninsula Teen USA the same night - have already been busy with some public appearances and are looking forward to more of that in the near future.
"Plus Brooke and I will be going downstate to consult with Crystal Hayes," Vereb said. Hayes, who hails from Rock, was Miss Michigan USA in 2005 and competed in the Miss USA pageant that same year, making the semifinals.
Vereb has high praise for the Miss Upper Peninsula USA pageant director, Jennifer Skogman-Wagner.
"Jennifer has been a big help through everything," Vereb said. "She has been great."
In looking ahead to the state pageant, Vereb said there's only one thing that has her a bit nervous.
"I am nervous for meeting the judges," she said. "When you go into the interview, you're don't know what they're going to ask you. But if you remember to just be yourself, to remain calm and comfortable, you'll be OK. It's just a different level, so the experience will be a bit different from what I've done so far.
"So I am a little bit nervous."
The backing she's gotten from her community has meant a lot to Vereb.
"I have to say thank you to my family and friends for the huge support they've given me," she said. "It is a huge blessing and an honor to be chosen to represent the Upper Peninsula. I hope to be able to do that well.
"I believe that, all in all, with the right attitude, nothing is impossible."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.