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Saluda?s Duke, Miss N.C., to compete in Miss USA pageant

Duke, who spoke to Saluda commissioners Monday, received a key to the city from city officials. She moved to Saluda when she was in the fifth grade and says she loves to talk about Saluda and Coon Dog Day. &uot;It&squo;s our little Mayberry,&uot; Duke says. &uot;It&squo;s a special little town, and the people are what makes Saluda what it is.&uot;Duke attended Faith Christian School and graduated from East Henderson High School. In 2005, she graduated from Wofford College, where she played volleyball. Recently, she graduated from the University of Florida with a masters of science in business management. Duke says she never competed in pageants until she was in high school. She has held the titles of Miss Hendersonville, Miss Greenville, S.C., and Miss Erwin (near Raleigh). Duke, who will turn 26 next Tuesday, is the daughter of Alan and Brenda Duke of Saluda.Although the Miss USA pageant doesn&squo;t include a talent competition, Duke is also a classical pianist.Duke will leave for Las Vegas next month to compete in the Miss USA pageant, which will be televised on NBC on April 11.&uot;Miss USA is a dream come true, and it&squo;s such an honor to have such an opportunity,&uot; Duke says. Duke says her platform is to improve self esteem and self image, specifically focusing on eating disorders and depression. She says she thanks God and her family for allowing her to get where she is today.Since Duke is not able to work currently because of her duties as Miss North Carolina, sponsorships are welcome. Donations for Duke can be sent to P.O. Box 95, Saluda, N.C. 28773.