Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether appears during the Miss USA 2013 pageant, Sunday, June 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jeff Bottari) Nana Meriwether at the Miss USA 2013 pageant last week. (Jeff Bottari/AP Photo)

Last June, Nana Meriwether was ready to shift gears. After six years on the pageant circuit, the Sidwell Friends alum got so close to the big prize — but was named Miss USA first runner-up instead. No problem: She moved on, launched a social-media marketing biz, started eating like a normal person again.

Then just before Christmas — boom! Miss USA Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe. . . and the Potomac native was back in pageant-world, obligated to fill out Culpo’s year as Miss USA. First thought in her mind, she told us: “Oh, I should go running!”

A week after handing over the crown to new Miss USA Erin Brady, Meriwether told us she’s glad for the detour. “It’s a job, it’s very challenging. A lot of girls can’t handle it. But I’m the type of person who always keeps busy.”

So, how about those disastrous on-stage interviews last week? Meriwether is sympathetic but tough. Some contestants get so focused on their hair and weight that they neglect current events, she said. “Every single day I would read the news and really engaged in the stories,” she said. “If you prepare mentally, when you’re on stage it will just come to you.”And next? She’s focused again on her business and African charity work, but yes, she is exploring some media-showbiz opportunities, as beauty queens so often do. “My dad is like, ‘So when are you applying to medical school?’ But I could always apply to med school, later on down the road.”

Earlier: Miss USA runner-up Nana Meriwether of Maryland: I was a high school wallflower, 6/4/12
Miss USA interview questions and answers: Did the judges get it right?, 6/17/13

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