Debbye Turner never expected that she would become Miss America. Debbye loved animals, and for a while she wanted to become a teacher. She really liked animals so she wanted to be a veterinarian. She knew that her family couldn't pay for the expensive costs of veterinary school. So, Debbye started to search for scholarship opportunities so she could go to school.
Debbye found ways to get scholarships; one way was to be in the Miss Jonesburg Pageant. The pageant was part of the Miss America pageant. She was told that the Miss America pageant was one of the largest providers of scholarships for women. She was also told she could win tens of thousands of dollars. Debbye accepted this challenge. Before she went to these pageants she had been in two others, so she was experienced. Her first pageant was "Miss Black Teenage World," which she entered when she was 15 years old. She won First Runner-Up. The second pageant was the "Junior Miss Program." She won that pageant, too, and was put in the top 8 in Northeastern Arkansas. She now wanted to try out in the "Miss America Pageant."
To go to the "Miss America Pageant," she needed to win a state pageant.
It took seven years and eleven tries. She entered four local pageants; she won 3 so she could go to the "Miss Arkansas" pageant. She tried to win it 3 times, but she lost 3 times. She decided to do something else so she began veterinary school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Since she was a student at that school, she was eligible for the Missouri preliminaries. On February of 1989 she entered the "Miss Columbia" pageant and won. She also won the "Miss Missouri" pageant. In September of 1990 she won "Miss America" which changed her life.
In 2001 Debbye Turner started to work for CBS as a broadcasting journalist for The Early Show. She had a show called Yikes! I'm a Grown Up. It showed the pleasures of being an adult. She also does Pet Planet. Before she worked for CBS she had a daily show called ,Show Me St.Louis and a show on PBS called the Gentle Doctor about pets and veterinary medicine. Debbye used to do motivational speaking. After she was crowned Miss America she talked to half a million students and went to many schools and college campuses. She talked to students about corporate, academic, and political subjects. She also talked about personal excellence, determination, goal setting, and the importance of a solid education.
Turner's job with CBS takes her all over the country and keeps her very busy. She still finds time to join local, state, and national councils, like the National Council on Youth Leadership, Children's Miracle Network, Missouri Division of Youth Services, and the Mathews-Dickey Boys'and Girls'Club. Right now she is on the National Advisory Child Health and the Human Development Council. Turner graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May 1991 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture which she received in May 1986 from Arkansas State University. Debbye Turner lives in the New York City area.