Previously, the pageant took place every September so the change to January means Downs has been reigning for more than 15 months.
Downs is making the most of her reign and says its given her more time to raise awareness about childhood cancer.
Its also means several engagements were added to her already hectic schedule. She says there was one period when she worked six weeks without a day to herself.
The new queen will be crowned Jan. 21 on CMT and while other Miss Americas have used the pageant as a springboard to show business, Downs plans to leave the limelight and return to medical school.
Downs says the money she has earned on the pageant circuit will help pay for schooling but admits she still might have to take out some loans.
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