50 Most Beautiful People for 2011: Page 43 of 50

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Age: 26
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: In a relationship

Maile Mercer, who advises Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) on economic policy, will soon leave Capitol Hill for nursing school — a calling, she says, that’s in her blood.


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“My mom and grandmother were both nurses, and many of my mom’s friends are nurses as well,” she says. “In some ways, there was just no escaping this profession.”

Mercer volunteered at a children’s hospital during college but ultimately pursued a degree in politics. She interned for (then candidate) Rep. Brad Miller’s (D-N.C.) campaign in 2002, and then was pointed to Price’s office, where she’s worked for four years.

“I could definitely continue to be happy and fulfilled working here, and for my boss, for a really long time,” she says. “I guess I was just lucky enough to find a career that was even more perfect for me.”

This occurred to Mercer a year ago, when she took a leave of absence to care for her mother, who had broken 11 bones in a bad fall.

Though she’s about to start a career in healthcare, Mercer says her own approach to fitness is “low-key.” 

“I like Yoga District” — the popular multidisciplinary studio — “because it’s a little crunchy,” she says. “I like my yoga non-judgmental.”

She also rides her bike occasionally on the Capitol Crescent trail, and calls herself “a big stickler on helmets.”

 Mercer was born in Oahu, Hawaii, and her first name, pronounced MY-lee, is Hawaiian.

She deadpans about having “a huge fan club in the 8-12 range” a la Miley Cyrus, and laments that so few get the pronunciation right on the first try. 

“If we’re on the phone, I understand a little confusion,” she says with a laugh. “But when we’re standing face-to-face … Do you really think my parents would name me ‘Mail?’”

—Elise Viebeck

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