Miss Knoxville juggles school, work to keep roof over grandmother’s head

Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennessee Children’s Hospital nurse Paige Clark is one of the hardest workers that WATE’s Lori Tucker says she has ever met. At one point during undergrad studies at the University of Tennessee, Clark was working 60 hours a week clogging at Pigeon Forge musical theaters just to help keep her grandmother from losing her home.

And she’s also Miss Knoxville.

Clark has been clogging for most of her young life. She turned her talent into a full-time job at the Comedy Barn and The Hatfield and McCoy show just a few years ago at the age of 19. It was a gift of love for her grandmother.

“She was no longer able to afford her mortgage,” Clark said. “No one else in my family could get a loan to help her out. My parents, they have their own bills. My aunts and uncles also do, too.

“So I took it upon myself, and I actually signed my name to a mortgage just after I turned 19 years old and I currently still own the house.”

Paige admitted she had no idea what she was getting into, but she took it upon herself to do whatever she could to help her grandmother.

“Some days, I would be doing one to two shows and some days I’d be doing four shows,” Paige said. “There were weeks where I’d put in sixty-plus hours into performing while also going to school and doing clinicals.

“So I lived out of my car. All my clothes were in my car, and I was just driving back and forth from Knoxville to Pigeon Forge; barely saw my parents, but I just knew that in the end, I had the strength to make it work.”

Clark also found time to participate in and win the Miss Knoxville pageant. She’s preparing now for the Miss Tennessee Volunteer pageant in June, all while working as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and continuing her education.

“I’m getting my doctorate degree, and I’ll be a pediatric nurse practitioner,” Clark said. “One thing I hope to do with that degree is I would love to go into the field of pediatric cardiology and one day work alongside a cardiologist.”

Paige’s doctoral studies are through Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of the UT College of Nursing’s Nightingala scholarship. She’ll share her story at this year’s Nightingala on Nov. 12 at Cherokee Country Club.

Ticket sales for the event have ended, but the virtual silent auction is free. For auction tickets visit, events.handbid.com/auctions/nightingala-2021.

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