More Than Just Miss Murray
By Alisha Soeken
Nicole Montgomery, an English teaching major at the University of Utah and daughter of Ed and Kristi Montgomery, was crowned Miss Murray 2016 on Sept. 5 at the Miss Murray Scholarship Pageant. Montgomery herself had reservations about pageantry.
“I wasn’t a pageant girl; I had the same reservations that many people have, which is that pageants are shallow and based solely on beauty,” Montgomery said. “I want people to know that every girl that goes on stage is well-accomplished, intelligent, inspiring and dedicated to her platform.”
Montgomery’s platform is, “Strong is the new skinny.” Helping to prevent eating disorders, Montgomery goes to junior highs and high schools and talks about the dangers of eating disorders.
“I chose this platform because so many women struggle with body image. I think women deserve to be told that being strong and beautiful is more than just skin deep,” she said.
Montgomery believes that being strong isn’t just physical: it’s emotional, spiritual, and intellectual, and by improving an individual’s self-esteem it will help not only that individual but also her community.
In the late 1970s, Rhea Kiissel started Murray’s formal pageants. Every year since then, the newly-crowned Miss Murray is sent to represent Murray City at the Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant. If she were to win, Montgomery has plans to continue her work.
“I want to open up a clinic that will help individuals struggling with eating disorders. In Utah there are very few places one can go to get treatment. All of the clinics are privately owned, therefore making them very expensive. My clinic would be non-profit, to focus on helping those who would otherwise not have the chance for treatment,” she said.
Whether or not Montgomery goes on to win Miss Utah, she will continue to represent and serve Murray as did last year’s Miss Murray titleholder Megan Zullo who, like Montgomery, is also a woman more than her title.
“I have always had a good understanding of who I was and what I could achieve. Beauty pageants are not about the crown, the dresses, or feeling like you meet an ideal image. It’s all about service and having ambition to make a difference. Being a title holder isn’t about what others can do for you, it’s about what you can do for others” Zullo said.
Zullo’s passion and platform in the pageant was, “Children Need Love.” Zullo wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.
“I wanted to provide opportunities and experiences that would improve their quality of life,” Zullo said.
Zullo teamed up with the Dare program and spoke at elementary schools. She collected shoes for the Power to Become movement for children in Africa and helped bring the Souper Bowl of caring organization to schools. In Murray school districts, Zullo also taught dance to young girls and worked with the South Valley Murray Boys and Girls Club facility.
Holding the title of Miss Murray is a lot of hard work, however “whether it was playing on the playground, reading books, or creating arts and crafts for kids, there wasn’t ever a moment I didn’t enjoy. I love children with all my heart and I found that in my best efforts to make a difference in their life, they changed mine,” Zullo said.
As the new year brings a change of title from Zullo to Montgomery, one thing will not change: a woman who holds that title with a focus, not on herself, but others.