DRAPER, Utah - Sgt. Jill Stevens, a member of 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation, Utah National Guard, was crowned Miss Utah Saturday evening, June 30, at the annual pageant held at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City.
As the only member of the military in the running this year. Stevens, of Kaysville, competed as Miss Davis County along with 49 other contestants from throughout the state,
Competing in last year's pageant as Miss Southern Utah University, Stevens finished as second runner-up. She was later advanced to first runner-up when her predecessor was unable to fulfill her duties.
Graduating this spring as a registered nurse from SUU, Stevens decided on a second go at the title after friends and family told her she had a legitimate shot at the crown.
"That's why I went back, because people believed in me," said Stevens. "There was such good competition, I knew I needed to work hard."
Adding to the suspense of the evening, when the field was narrowed down to ten finalists, Stevens' name was announced ninth. And when the group was pared down to five, Stevens was the fifth one called.
"These are some stellar girls," added Stevens, modestly. "I did my best, but I left it in the Lord's hands."
Stevens is a combat veteran, having served as a medic on an 18-month tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the 1-211th in 2004-05.
As an example of her ability to respond on short notice as a Guard member, she was a last-minute fill-in for the Full Nelson team, composed entirely of Utah National Guard members, which competed in the Wasatch Back Relay on June 22-23. Her team finished seventh overall and second in the Open Mixed (men and women) Division. And she did that just one week prior to the Miss Utah competition.
"Jill Stevens is a wonderful ambassador for the Guard. Obviously she is bright and attractive, but most important, she's a terrific Soldier," said Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard.
Stevens will compete in the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January 2008.