Nicole Elizabeth Rash (born October 31, 1984) is an American model, actress. Pageant winner, Pageant Coach, and Writer. She is the 2007 winner of Miss Indiana, first runner-up to Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund., Ms. Missouri 2012, and Ms. America 2012
Rash was born in South Bend, Indiana, lived in LaPaz, Indiana, and attended LaVille Elementary through the 3rd grade. While she was growing up, Nicole participated in a couple of children's pageants and modeling, showing up in some local advertisements.
In 1994 Nicole's family moved to Plymouth, Indiana where Nicole attended Jefferson Elementary. In her 4th grade year, she experienced her first overseas travel when she entered a direct exchange program through the school with an elementary school in France. She and her family hosted a female student for 3 weeks and Nicole went to France for 3 weeks where she learned to appreciate other cultures and languages. She then attended Lincoln Junior High School in Plymouth for the 6th-8th grades where she excelled in academics, choir, and athletics being on the volleyball, basketball, and track teams. Nicole continued doing well throughout high school being an Academic Honor Society member, among many other clubs, and she continued in sports; she helped lead the volleyball team to sectional championships, the track team to conference wins, and still holds the high jump record with a jump of 5'5" which she achieved her sophomore year. She also placed 9th at the Indiana Track State Finals her senior year in high jump. Nicole graduated from Plymouth High School in 2003 with an academic honors diploma, being in the top 12% of her class, was awarded many scholarships including the presidential scholarship from Ball State University, and was even voted "Most Likely to be a Rockstar" by her class.
Upon graduation Nicole had unconventional plans for her immediate future. Rather than choosing to go to college right away, she chose to travel to South America as an exchange student through an AFS Intercultural Programs-program. Having had several exchange students in her house, since her first experience in France (including exchange students from China, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria some staying in their home for an entire year), Nicole decided she wanted to learn the Spanish language fluently and experience the South American culture. She chose Bolivia as her host country and lived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with a host family from September 2003 - August 2004. She attended a high school (Isabel Saavedra) in Santa Cruz for part of the time and even took some college courses while learning the Spanish language.
After she returned to the States in 2004 Nicole started attending Ball State University studying telecommunications, theatre, and dance performance. Then, because of her experiences in South America she tested out of several levels of Spanish, and was chosen to go on another exchange. This time, she traveled to Chile, South America where she lived in Santiago and attended UNIACC University while earning college credits through Ball State for one semester. She continued to study theatre there, and helped teach English classes for 6 months from March 2005 – August 2006.
Because of the difference in the semesters, Nicole didn’t make it back in time to start the next fall semester at Ball State. So, she instead decided to pursue other opportunities in modeling. She started by sending in an audition tape to the CW network's America's Next Top Model, and was chosen as a semi-finalist. However, she did not advance any further in the competition and after sending pictures and resumes to many agencies across the country with no replies, she decided to focus on other things for a while. She was then offered a job at St. Joe Regional Medical Center in Plymouth as a Spanish interpreter because of her Spanish language abilities acquired while living in South America. Nicole worked at the hospital as needed for the year and also substitute taught for the Plymouth School Corporation on occasion
It was during this time that Nicole entered the Miss America Organization for the first time and became interested in fashion design because of an experience in designing her evening gown for Miss Indiana 2006. So, in the fall of 2006, Nicole decided to change her major from Theatre and Dance Performance to Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design. She stayed at Ball State for two semesters, Fall 2006 and Spring 2007, earning a 4.0 each semester with her new fashion major. While studying, Nicole decided to enter the Miss Ball State University Pageant, won the title along with the swimsuit & interview preliminary prizes, and went on to the Miss Indiana pageant in June 2007 where she became the first Miss BSU in its 50-year history to win the title of Miss Indiana.
Since then, Nicole served as Miss Indiana for the entire year (June 2007-June 2008) performing numerous tasks as the state's titleholder. She also filmed the reality show "Miss America: Reality Check" in September 2007, which produced 4 episodes that aired in the weeks before the Miss America pageant in January. She then represented the state of Indiana in the Miss America Pageant, where she received 1st runner-up, and served the rest of her year as Miss Indiana traveling the state talking to various middle schools about the "Right Decisions, Right Now" program among other things. She then passed her title on to the 2008 representative, Katie Stam, but remained the 1st runner-up to the 2008 Miss America until January 2009. Katie Stam, Miss Indiana 2008, went on to win Miss America in 2009 making her the first and only Miss Indiana to be crowned Miss America!
After Nicole completed her duties with the Miss America organization, she moved to Orange County, California to pursue a job opportunity with a clothing company in L.A. which culminated from her appearance on Miss America (where she showcased her self-designed evening gown). She was also accepted at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in 2008 and studied clothing design. However, wanting to be closer to the city and her first love of theater, she moved closer to L.A. to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. She participated in numerous student films, shorts, theatre productions, and even 2011 feature film "Warrior" starring Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, and Joel Edgerton. She later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to follow a modeling opportunity with Urban Talent Agency and while there modeled for companies such as Gold's Gym and Maggie Sottero Bridal.
After a year in Utah modeling and attending the University of Utah studying business, Nicole decided to go back to the mid-west and her Indiana roots to finish college at Ball State University, where she began. She was able to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and graduated from Ball State magna cum laude. During this time, she met her future husband, musician and engineer Grant M. Cook, and they were married in South Bend, Indiana on September 15, 2012. Grant also lived in L.A. and had a successful music and song-writing career with several different bands, most notably "Just Gone 6".
Nicole is currently still modeling, coaching girls for pageants, and has a budding career as a writer and plans to write a book in the future. So far, she has been featured on websites such as Forbes.com, MO.com, GalTime.com, and HR.com for her expertise in a variety of subjects, mostly surrounding pageants and/or public speaking.
Most notably Nicole had a part in the Lionsgate feature film "Warrior" (Released in September 2011 - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1291584/). The movie includes actors such as Academy Award nominated Nick Nolte and "House" television star Jennifer Morrison. The story is based on Mixed Martial Arts Fighting and Nicole was a 'ring girl' in the film. She filmed in Pittsburgh, PA for 6 weeks for her part and the film is set to be released in September 2011.
Despite Nicole's unconventional education plan, she recently completed her bachelor's degree in Spanish at Ball State University and has a promising career ahead of her. She is currently working on several projects including starting a business as a public speaking and pageant coach and possibly writing a book. She has many different interests and talents, so choosing just one career has proved difficult but she looks forward to what the future holds. She had always been fascinated with fashion, enjoyed sewing, and became interested in a career in fashion design while preparing for her first trip to the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant:
After winning her first preliminary pageant, Nicole started searching for the perfect evening gown for the Miss Indiana pageant. Having searched at many gown stores, with no luck in finding the idea she had of the dress she wanted, it was suggested to her to go to a couture dress boutique in Chicago. So, Nicole made the trip, with her sketches and ideas in hand, and had the team at 'Mira Couture' make her a halter top, backless, iridescent turquoise, chiffon gown with rhinestone accents. Nicole did so well at the pageant that year (receiving 1st runner-up her first try), had many good reviews from several of the pageant goers, and had such a great experience with the designing of the gown that she decided that perhaps a career in fashion would be perfect for her.
She has since taken classes in textiles, fashion illustration, garment construction, chemistry, economics, and merchandising math to further her understanding of the fashion industry. She also designed her Miss America evening gown (iridescent purple chiffon, sweetheart halter top, Swarovski crystal beading on the halter and bodice) also crafted at Mira Couture in Chicago, and was able to showcase it on national TV during the live pageant finale. Nicole planned on finishing her education at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A., but was drawn in by the opportunities of her first love of performing. So, she shifted her focus to acting workshops, classes, and was even accepted into The Groundlings School (a prestigious comedy improv school where many well-known comedians learned their craft) before she moved on to other modeling opportunities and finally settled on finishing school while still modeling and hosting on the side.
Nicole continues to model. She has been in L.A. Fashion week twice, various magazines such as LA Weekly and "The Knot" Magazine, on several designer's websites, and even filmed an instructional video for "Pure Radicals" hair extensions, an infomercial for "Shadow Tan" spray on tanning, was the model for the "NuBra" website, as well as a model for bridal designer "Maggie Sottero" for her 'destinations' collection.
|Job Title||Name of Company||Location||Timeframe|
|Model||Arlene Wilson Modeling Agency||Chicago, Illinois||1999–2002|
|English Teacher||UNIACC University||Santiago, Chile (South America)||March 2005 - August 2005|
|Spanish Interpreter||Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center||Plymouth, Indiana||October 2005 - June 2007|
|Substitute Teacher||Plymouth School Corporation||Plymouth, Indiana||October 2005 - May 2008|
|Miss Indiana 2007[www.missindianapageant.com]||Miss America Organization||Indiana||June 2007 - June 2008|
|Model/Actress||MSA - www.msaagency.com - Agent: Jennifer Hebert||Los Angeles, California||June 2009 - December 2010|
|Model/Actress||Urban Talent - www.urbantalent.com - Agent: Tina Bullen||Salt Lake City, UT||December 2010 - Still represented|
|Model/Narrator at Auto Shows for Chrysler Inc.||Gail & Rice Inc. - www.gail-rice.com - Supervisor: Terri Maloy||Southfield, MI||November 2010 - May 2011|
|Model/Actress||Images Agency St. Louis - www.imagesagency.com - Agent: Donya||St. Louis, MO||May 2012 - Current|
|Public Speaking & Pageant Preparation Coach||Llc Currently Forming - www.nicolerash.com||St. Louis, MO||Est. August 2012|
Nicole started competing in pageants at the age of 5 yrs old when she was entered in some local pageants in the South Bend, Indiana area. She enjoyed the experience, but did not plan on competing much in the future, so Nicole focused on other activities during elementary and junior high school.
She then entered a small pageant in Mishawaka entitled "Miss Michiana" where she received 2nd runner-up, and later entered the "Miss Sweetheart" pageant, also in Mishawaka, where she won the beauty category entitling her to be represented for the year by the AAA Modeling Agency in Northern Indiana.
Her senior year of high school, Nicole competed in the Plymouth Junior Miss Pageant (Now "Distinguished Young Women") and was chosen as their representative for the state program that year. She bested a field of 9 girls competing in private interview, a fitness routine (for which she won a preliminary award), talent (for which she gave a vocal performance), evening gown, and on-stage question. She then went to Indiana's Junior Miss later that year.
Nicole also entered the Miss Blueberry Festival pageant that same year where she competed in private interview, evening gown, and sportswear. She placed 2nd in the contest to festival queen Sara Boyer.
After returning from Bolivia, South America Nicole signed up for the Miss Ball State University pageant her first semester at the college, but was unable to compete when she was chosen for the UNIACC University exchange program in Santiage, Chile.
Upon her return from Chile, Nicole entered the Miss Indiana preliminary Miss North Central Indiana in Plainfield, Indiana and received 2nd runner-up in the well-known preliminary. This entitled her to compete in the "Sweeps" pageant in Bluffton, IN which would choose two more contestants for the Miss Indiana pageant from runners-up during that year. There she won the title of Miss Wabash Valley and entered the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant for the first time in June 2006. That year she received 1st runner-up to Miss Indiana 2006, Betsy Uschkrat, which qualified her for the National Sweetheart Pageant in Hoopeston, Illinois. The National Sweetheart Pageant serves as a 'mock Miss America' inviting all 1st runners-up from the state pageants to compete with one another in order to hopefully better prepare them for competition the next year. Nicole was chosen as a top 10 finalist at the Sweethaert Pageant that year, and the representative from Georgia, Kelly Bradshaw, captured the title.
The following year, Nicole was fortunate enough to win the first local pageant she competed in, Miss Ball State University. She sang "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill, wore her turquoise state gown from the previous year, and won preliminary awards in swimsuit and interview. She then represented her school at the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant that summer; she returned to her original talent, singing "Bandido" by Ana Barbara in new wardrobe which won her a preliminary talent award, and she wore a baby blue one shouldered Tony Bowls evening gown. She was able to best a field of 27 contestants and captured the title of Miss Indiana 2007! She was the first Miss Ball State to win the pageant in its 50-year history, and the first person from Plymouth, Indiana as well.
As Miss Indiana, Nicole went on to film a reality series with the Miss America Organization entitled "Miss America: Reality Check" where the 52 contestants were given tips by 3 advisors on changes they need to make for the newer, fresher, more modern image that Miss America needs to have. The series included 4 episodes that aired before the live pageant finale, and each week the top 3 contestants that were progressing the most, and the bottom 3 contestants that needed the most work, were chosen with a final top 3 chosen on the final episode. Nicole, along with Miss Washington and Miss New Mexico, were chosen as those top 3 contestants on the final episode, and were awarded with a $10,000 scholarship from 'Crest White Strips' and a $2,500 shopping spree from 'www.shopintuition.com.'
Nicole then represented the state of Indiana at the Miss America Pageant in January 2008 where she competed in 3 nights of preliminaries before the final Live Pageant Finale on Saturday, January 21. There she was chosen as a Top 16 Finalist, competed in the swimsuit competition, moved on to the Top 10 Finalists, competed in evening gown (where she showcased her self-designed evening gown that she sketched, chose the fabric for, and had made at the Chicago boutique 'Mira Couture'), then survived the Top 8 Finalists cut and competed in the talent competition with her vocal performance of "Bandido" by Ana Bárbara. She answered an on-stage question as the final section of competition and was named 1st runner-up to Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund of Michigan.
After the national pageant, Nicole continued to promote the national platform of Miss America, Children's Miracle Network, in her home state of Indiana as well as throughout the nation. She gave speeches at several middle and elementary schools throughout the state about the "Right Decisions, Right Now" program which emphasized the importance of making good decisions, setting goals for yourself, and choosing to be smoke and tobacco free. She also sang the National Anthem at the Indiana Society of Chicago's annual banquet, at the 4th of July celebration in Zionsville, Indiana (where the state pageant is held), a NASCAR affiliated race, and at other events. She helped with different organizations such as "Hearts and Hands" organizing a Latino Festival and toddler pageant, "The United Way" helping at their campaign launch and the annual United Way of Marshall County motorcycle ride, "Children's Miracle Network" by visiting the CMN hospital in Indiana, Riley's, helping coordinate a holiday party as well as helping hand out blizzards on "Miracle Treat Day" at the Plymouth Dairy Queen, and more.
Nicole took a hiatus from pageants while focusing on a career in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles for 5 years before she decided to compete again. This time she was able to compete in the Ms. division and chose the Ms. America Pageant. She applied to become Ms. Missouri, after recently moving to St. Louis, and was chosen as the state's representative. She then went on to the national competition in Anaheim, CA where she won the title of Ms. America 2012! She competed in Interview, Fashion wear, Evening wear, Fitness wear, and on-stage question and has since been on radio stations, television programs, red carpets, and in parades and at special events throughout the country. Her personal platform is "Breathe Easy - Keeping our Youth Smoke and Tobacco Free" Nicole decided to compete again so that she could continues to use her titles to benefit causes throughout the United States and plans to compete in other pageants to continue to help others through these empowering organizations.
Seeing the great benefit and many opportunities that Nicole was afforded through pageants, she has recently started coaching other women in all facets of pageant competitions including interview, talent, on-stage presence, hair & make-up, wardrobe, and much more.