Jillian Zucco, who works as a telemetry nurse at the Brockton hospital, was crowned Miss Massachusetts in July.

Jillian Zucco did not make the top 15 in the Miss America pageant Sunday, Sept. 10, but she did get to ride home from Atlantic City with her family by her side – a dream fulfilled, and a promising nursing career ahead of her.

“This was my dream, to compete on the Miss America stage,” the Good Samaritan telemetry nurse said from the road in Connecticut, as her family headed home to Mattapoisett. Making the top 15 would have been the icing the cake, “but I still have the cake,” she said.

Crowned in July, the 24-year-old Zucco is the reigning Miss Massachusetts, a title she earned after being the first runner-up for the previous two years.

Miss North Dakota Cara Mund, 23, won the top title in Atlantic City, the first ever from her state to be named Miss America.

For her part, Zucco spent two weeks in the New Jersey resort town, the first of which was spent in a nonstop cycle of rehearsals, photo shoots and other preparation. The second week brought interviews, an arrival ceremony Tuesday, and preliminary competition Wednesday through Friday.

Zucco was one of three women to win a $5,000 scholarship for STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math. A May 2016 graduate of UMass Dartmouth, she plans to apply to graduate schools to pursue a doctor of nursing practice degree. She hopes to work as a nurse practitioner and teach nursing at the college level, she said.

One of highlights of the competition came Saturday: the “Show Us Your Shoes” parade down the Atlantic City boardwalk, with contests riding atop convertibles in costumes and heavily decorated shoes reflecting themes related to their states.

“The shoes were really crazy,” Zucco said.

She wore platform stilletos depicting Paul Revere’s midnight ride, along with a colonial costume and tri-corn hat. Kim Macomber of Westport designed and decorated the shoes.

Asked what she enjoyed most about the pageant, Zucco said she loved getting to know the contestants.

“They’re just so amazing and accomplished,” she said. And, contrary to the stereotype of highly competitive “pageant girls,” everyone was friendly and supportive.

In addition to the STEM scholarship, she was the second runner-up for the Miracle Maker award, which recognizes contestants’ fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Zucco said she raised $15,000 this year for Boston Children’s Hospital and $35,000 over the last four years.

Along with her fundraising for Children’s Hospital, according to her bio in The Atlantic City Press, Zucco volunteers over 750 hours a year, organizing blood drives, food drives and charity fundraisers as well as co-directing a community-service singing group which performs over 200 hours a year.

Zucco won this year’s Miss Massachusetts crown as Miss Bristol County and received a $12,000 award, among other gifts and prizes. Emily Thomas of Bridgewater was second runner-up and Brittany Churchill of West Bridgewater was fourth runner-up at the early July pageant in Worcester.

Zucco’s job at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton requires her to work with patients who need constant  monitoring, including those recently released from intensive care. Along with care, compassion and strong people skills, a telemetry nurse must utilize advanced medical knowledge and technical expertise while caring for patients who may have life-threatening conditions.

Good Samaritan has allowed Zucco to switch her schedule from full-time to per diem during the pageants and while she fulfills the duties of Miss Massachusetts.

Anyone can submit a request for her to appear at events through MissMass.org.

Enterprise staff material was used in this report.   

Follow Jennette Barnes on Twitter @jbarnesnews.