On Saturday, Jan. 14, 53 ladies from across the U.S. will compete for the title of Miss America in Las Vegas. UVU’s own Danica Olsen of Tooele, Utah, will represent the state in the pageant’s 91st event. Olsen will be sponsored by the Miss Utah Valley University Pageant and Miss Utah Scholarship Organization at the local and state levels, respectively.
Olsen, a junior majoring in speech communication, won out over 12 other UVU students and alumni in the Miss Utah pageant, making her the second consecutive UVU student to represent the Beehive State in the national competition. Her spoils included a $10,000 scholarship, housing stipend and a new car from Murdock Motors. Olsen hopes to use the scholarship money to continue her education with a master’s in mass communication and eventually become a college dance team coach.
The Miss America pageant, founded in 1921, bills itself as the largest scholarship provider to young women in the world, supplying over $40 million annually in cash and scholarships. It is not to be confused with the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, founded to promote Catalina Swimsuits in 1952.
Although many viewers are accustomed to watching the swimsuit, talent and evening wear portions of the competition, they may be surprised to know that the platform has not always been an integral part of the pageant. It was conceived in 1989 and requires each participant to select an issue that is meaningful to her and of current relevance to the country.
Olsen’s chosen platform is the topic of prescription drug abuse, perhaps not surprisingly since Utah consistently ranks number one in the nation in that category. As Miss Utah, Olsen would travel country-wide educating audiences about her platform. She would also serve as the face for the Children’s Miracle Network and as a representative for the Child Protection Registry, a governmental act which prohibits minors from receiving adult-targeted electronic messages.
However, if Olsen wins the title of Miss America, she would travel over 20,000 miles each month to a different city every 24-48 hours promoting her chosen platform and, according to missamerica.org, would reflect “a tradition of style, sophistication and service” wherever she goes.
The Miss America pageant will be broadcast live Saturday, Jan. 14 on ABC at 9 pm EST.
By Deven Leigh Ellis – Asst. Life Editor