Why I Love Shelby County

“The community and people of Shelby County have always been so welcoming.”

Photograph Contributed 

Deidre Downs Gunn traded in her pageant gowns for scrubs — and she’s loved every moment of it. A Pelham High School graduate, Gunn was named Miss America in 2005. She is now a physician at UAB pursuing subspecialty training as a fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. She will be joining the faculty as a reproductive endocrinologist in 2017. Gunn also stays busy with her 6-year-old son Jack.

Diedre Downs Gunn

Diedre Downs Gunn

What have you been up to since winning Miss America?

After I completed my year of service as Miss America, I returned to Birmingham and went to medical school at the UAB School of Medicine, where I graduated with my MD in 2010. I completed a four-year residency program in obstetrics and gynecology in 2014, followed by a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, which I will finish in 2017.

 How has Miss America helped you?

First and foremost, Miss America paid for almost all of my medical education. I received nearly $110,000 in scholarship money during the five years I competed in the Miss Alabama/Miss America scholarship program. Because of the program’s emphasis on communication and interview skills, I gained extensive experience in public speaking and learned to communicate with people of all different backgrounds, which is a skill I use every day when I see patients.

What attracted you to a career in medicine?

I was in a car accident in high school, and going through two surgeries and rehab sparked my interest in the medical field. Medicine is a career that combines the intellectual challenge of science with the human element of caring for patients and making a difference in people’s lives. It’s an incredibly demanding career, but I love it, and it makes me excited to wake up every day and go to work.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

One of the most rewarding things about my job is helping a couple with infertility to get pregnant.

How do you think having a Shelby County education helped you?

I received an excellent education at Pelham High School and was able to take a range of Advanced Placement courses that prepared me for my first two years at the University of Virginia, where I was an Echols Scholar, and then Samford University, where I graduated in 2002 and was then named a Rhodes Scholar finalist.

What do you love about Shelby County?

The community and people of Shelby County have always been so welcoming. It is a great place to raise a family and gave me a wonderful foundation for success in college and beyond.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love reading, traveling and I recently bought a bike and have enjoyed riding around Birmingham.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

My mother is a principal in Shelby County at Calera Intermediate School.