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Only three credits shy of her diploma when she left college for Idol, Underwood returns to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., on May 6, 2006, to graduate magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in mass communication.
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Set up the trophy case! The stunned singer takes home her first two Country Music Association Awards – including female vocalist of the year – in November 2006. "Two years ago I was sitting at home watching these very awards and watching all these people win," she tells reporters. "This is the best year of my life."
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Underwood scores double honors again, winning best new artist and best female country vocal performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Another thrill: She performs with her personal idols, Rascal Flatts, in a tribute to musicians Bob Wills and Don Henley.
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At the 2007 CMA Awards, the glamour girl performs her hit "So Small" and scoops up more awards, repeating as female vocalist of the year and nabbing single of the year for "Before He Cheats."
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You know you've made it when you're immortalized in wax! The country cutie does a double take while meeting her wax figure at Madame Tussauds in New York City on Oct. 22, 2008.
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LOVE ON ICE
Underwood quietly starts dating Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher after meeting him at a Toronto concert in October 2008. A year later, she leaves a dedication to him in the liner notes of her album Play On, writing, "I love you so much! You make my life better in every way!"
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THE COUNTRY CLUB
She's got perfect pitch! Underwood is a real Nashville player, ditching her mic for a mitt at the Celebrity Softball Challenge in June 2009. But her true initiation came a year earlier, when she was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, joining the ranks of country legends Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson.
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Though she jokes she might get sick while performing, football fan Underwood hits all the right notes as she sings the national anthem before Super Bowl XLIV in Miami on Feb. 7, 2010.
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The singer gets a sweet squeeze from Tim McGraw during the 2010 ACMs. That night, she becomes the first woman ever to win entertainer of the year twice and scores the "Triple Crown" (an honor bestowed upon an elite group of artists who've won entertainer of the year, top vocalist and top new vocalist).
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Blake & Ryan Take New York, Plus Eva Longoria, Rihanna & More
Bethenny Frankel Comes Clean on Her Long-Rumored Fling with Alex Rodriguez — Did They Actually Date?
When Katie Couric Hits the Town with Her Daughter Ellie 'It's Like Girls Gone Wild: Manhattan!'