Miss New Mexico Jessica Burson's "first time on stage competing at a pageant" was last week when she just happened to win the state title. Not too shabby. "I had some struggles because it was my first time, but I enjoyed it," Jessica said o...f the experience. She stayed with a host family in Ruidoso and became good friends with a another contestant living with the same family, too. "I consider her my sister, and I don't have any sisters," she said.
She does have a brother, Cole, who has taken to introducing her as Miss New Mexico, and her family and friends expect to send a large contingent to Atlantic City to cheer her on. "We had the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner (in Roswell) and this is the next big thing," Jessica said of being able to represent her hometown. The 20-year-old's trip to Atlantic City will be her first. when she gets here, she'll appear on stage as a singer.
Jessica explained that she danced at Miss New Mexico, but concerns about aggravating an old injury led to the switch. "I'm a farm girl and I got run over by a show steer," she said. Jessica had to spend many months recovering. "You're given challenges to prepare you for the next chapter," Jessica said of her approach to life.
She is a student at Eastern New Mexico University at Roswell with a double major in animal science and communications, and plans to work as a dermatologist in other parts of the world and to continue working as a mentor with young people. "I love service," she said. "My parents have instilled in me the importance of loving and serving others." She was active in the $-H and Future Farmers of America. "I'm a fifth generation agriculturist," Jessica said. The family farm includes sheep, hay, and alfalfa.
Her platform is Healthy Bodies, Happy Hearts: Taking Strides Against Childhood Obesity, something prompted by her own eating disorder when she was young. "I understand what it's like to be young and to be bullied," she said. She recalled a dance teacher telling her and other girls "there can never be a fat ballerina" and the message left a mark. 'But I grew to love myself," Jessica said.

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