By Katrina Murdock
Eleven girls attending BYU will compete in the Miss Utah pageant this Saturday June 15 at Mountain View High School.
“Even with 11 girls from BYU, out of 55 total, competing in this year”s competition, I wish BYU would institute a program to allow more girls to compete from BYU. Miss Utah really forces a young girl to dig deep inside and find out who she is and what she stands for spiritually, mentally and physically,” said Rhea Kiisel, president and executive director of the Miss Utah pageant.
Many of the girls have said they decided to compete for Miss Utah for personal growth and furthering their education with scholarship money, said Joanna Larson, press relations for Miss Utah.
“The Miss Utah Pageant stands for women of integrity and service, and is the largest scholarship pageant in the world,” Kiisel said. “We encourage the girls to stand by the Honor Code they sign at BYU and not to compromise their standards. We want them to be their own person, but to always stand by ethical and moral standards.”
The Miss Utah pageant is preliminary to the Miss America Pageant, which is a not-for-profit corporation established to provide young women ages 17-24 with the opportunity to enhance their professional and educational goals, and to achieve those pursuits with the assistance of monetary grants and rewards, Kiisel said.
This year, $24,000 in cash and $174,000 in scholarships will be given to the contestants, Kiisel said.
The current Miss Utah, Jaclyn Hunt, has had more than 700 appearances during her reign and has won more than $39,000 in scholarships to go toward finishing her education. She is a senior majoring in English at BYU and plans on earning a masters degree in English as well.
When Hunt first competed for Miss Lehi, she did not dream of becoming Miss Utah, mainly because she thought it wasn”t possible.
“I thought Miss Utah would be all about autograph signings, parades and ribbon cuttings,” Hunt said. “Now I can look back and see the difference Miss Utah can make with the service she is able to perform in changing many people”s lives,” Hunt said.