From St. George to the big stage: Miss Southern Utah vies to become Miss Utah

Miss Southern Utah Hillary Beecher poses at Panorama Elementary School in St. George, Utah, June 5, 2021 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — St. George native and reigning Miss Southern Utah Hillary Beecher will take the stage in Provo next Tuesday alongside 48 other candidates to compete for the title of Miss Utah.

Miss Southern Utah Hillary Beecher poses in front of St. George Regional Hospital in St. George, Utah, Oct. 3, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Hillary Beecher, St. George News

After winning the Miss Southern Utah scholarship and being crowned in September 2019, Beecher is competing for a second scholarship and the opportunity to advance to the Miss America competition, which will take place in December in Connecticut. The role of Miss Utah also comes with the chance to travel the state and educate people of all ages about the Miss America competitions and a chosen social topic. 

Throughout her time as Miss Southern Utah, Beecher has visited numerous elementary schools to talk to students, and she said that serving as a mentor has been very meaningful to her.

“Talking to these kids, I learn so much more about myself,” she told St. George News. “Giving back to these kids and helping them understand that they can be where I am is very important to me. If I have the opportunity to serve as Miss Utah, I want to really be myself, but make sure that every person understands that they are just like me, and that they can do anything they want to do.”

A Dixie State University graduate, Beecher has a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis in biomedical sciences. When she’s not visiting elementary schools or preparing for the Miss Utah competition, Beecher can be found working as a surgical assistant at St. George Regional Hospital, where she assists in the operating room and orthopedic clinic five days a week. Beecher said she experienced the coronavirus crisis firsthand, which taught her a lot about grit.

“It was really scary, because no one really understood the urgency of COVID,” Beecher said. “You kind of know when you’re willing to put yourself at risk for someone else; it’s a humbling experience, but I knew I was in the right place… I want to be here in science, and this was just an extra step to make sure. It kind of fortified why I was doing what I was doing.”

Being Miss Southern Utah has demanded time from Beecher, and being Miss Utah, if she wins, will require her to put her career and plans to go to medical school on hold for a year. What makes it all worth it is the opportunity to meet new people and educate them about her social impact initiative, “Stay Safe While Social Scrolling,” an effort to promote awareness about internet safety. 

“We need to start talking about how we can use social media for good,” Beecher said. “(Girls) start thinking they have to look a certain way when they’re 9 years old, and to me, that was really heartbreaking.”

Miss Southern Utah Hillary Beecher reads to an elementary class, location not specified, March 5, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Hillary Beecher, St. George News

Parents, teachers, students and anyone who is interested can visit Beecher’s website and access resources, articles and tips to help them navigate the internet and social media. The social impact initiative is part of what Beecher will present to the judges next week, in addition to her interview, talent and on-stage appearances. For her talent, Beecher wrote an original monologue about grit and her experiences in the STEM field during COVID. 

Jessica Orvin, co-director of the Miss Southern Utah Scholarship Competition, said that Beecher’s social impact initiative is so powerful because it’s an important issue to anyone and everyone. 

“She could’ve picked anything,” Orvin said. “The important thing to us is that it’s something that they are passionate about and they can educate the community.”

Orvin and her co-director, Madison Brostrom, started Miss Southern Utah three years ago to give girls who live in the southern half of the state access to the Miss Utah and Miss America competitions. Miss Utah is one of the most competitive state competitions in the Miss America world, Orvin said, with an average of 50 girls competing each year. 

“Utah is full of very beautiful, talented people so it’s definitely a hard competition,” she said. 

Brostrom added that the Miss Southern Utah competition allows girls who live in Southern Utah but are ineligible to compete in Miss Dixie or other scholarship competitions to have access to a similar opportunity. More information and contact info for Miss Southern Utah can be found here

Tickets to the Miss Utah events in Provo are sold out, but the on-stage events will be livestreamed, including Beecher’s monologue and on-stage interview. A schedule and link to the livestream are available online. Members of the public are also invited to participate in the People’s Choice Award and vote for their favorite candidate. To vote for Beecher, visit her People’s Choice Award page.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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