Though the lights of the Miss USA Pageant have faded, Nichole Holmes’ future is a brightly-lit pathway to a Chicago modeling career.

By Gus Bode

Although she was poised on a stage in South Padre Island, Texas, just one week ago competing for the Miss USA title, the second runner-up said she is glad to be back home for a day named in her honor.

Holmes, an SIUC junior in communications from Marion, will be recognized tonight by the city at the Marion Holiday Inn from 6-8 p.m.

Standing in a floor-length black mink jumpsuit with leopard-lined collar and holding her Austrian-crystal crown, Holmes says she feels just as comfortable in jeans and a sweatshirt.


You definitely have to enjoy dressing up to be in this business, Holmes said. And I really do.

Holmes will be doing plenty of clothes changing as she prepares to pursue her modeling career goal in Chicago.

It’s undecided when I will be going up, she said. I guess I’ll just be hitting the streets looking for agents and jobs. I’ll see how my face does up there and if nothing happens, I’ll be back.

Marion is my home and will always be my home. I hope to come back and raise my family here.

Holmes, a graduate of John A. Logan College, got her pageant start in Southern Illinois, competing at local festivals when she was 17, before she advanced to the state and national levels.

In the process of following her high-fashion modeling dreams, Holmes said she has received movie scripts from SIUC graduate film maker Jim Belushi and many personal appearance propositions.

Between reviewing those scripts and waving to well-wishers, she said she will be busy preparing her portfolio and contacting agents in the Windy City.


Holmes said that in order to keep her picture-perfect figure she works out with her trainer and boyfriend of three years when she has time.

While Holmes may be back in the reality of Southern Illinois, her dream-like contest memories always are near.

I knew Miss Kentucky, Mitzi Jones, but we got a lot closer on this trip, she said. We only live 45 minutes away from each other, so we plan to visit and go to L.A. together.

During her week-long stay in Texas, Holmes met several celebrities who made her feel at ease during the pageant.

Daisy Fuentes (MTV video disc jockey and emcee) is one of my role models, and she was really cool, and Bob Goen (weekend host of Entertainment Tonight) made us feel at ease he even showed us pictures of his new baby, she said. They were both just one of the girls.

As Holmes zips her suitcase to head north, she takes with her trophies from her second runner-up and Miss Photogenic titles and more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.

Miss USA was the mother of all pageants and I am so glad I was a part of it, she said.