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Jed Boal Reporting Life just took off for the newly-crowned Miss Utah, who has a different story to tell than most pageant contestants. Sergeant Jill Stevens of the Utah National Guard is a combat veteran.
No Miss America contestant before has traded a helmet for a tiara, combat boots for stilettos and the camo for an evening gown. But Jill Stevens of Kaysville plans to show the state and the nation that Miss Congeniality won't back down. We caught up with her at a photo shoot.
Miss Utah Jill Stevens is a natural at a photo shoot. Meadow Gold Dairies, a long-time pageant sponsor, will paste her picture on an I-15 billboard.
Miss Utah says, "I am proud of the woman I've become and what I've learned this past year."
She bonded with village girls and will cherish those connections. After six-and-a-half years in the Guard, Stevens expects another deployment in the coming years, but ultimately is setting her sights on a career as a civilian flight nurse on a medical helicopter.
Stevens says that most of this pageant stuff is very new to her: the photo shoots, the parades and all of the attention. But she believes her military training will be a real asset. "It's taught me to not be intimidated, to believe in my self and know I can make a difference," she says.
Stevens faces six months of intense preparation for the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January--boot camp with pageant pros. "They did give me a crash course on how to put on make-up. Before it was just camo paint that I knew how to put on," Stevens explains.
She's already attracted national attention and will appear on CNN tomorrow. Stevens says her army friends give her a good razzing about the pageant, but the Guard's adjutant general called her a "good soldier" and a "wonderful ambassador for the Guard."