Miss Murray 2021 Kyleigh Cooper hopes to promote unityOct 26, 2020 03:46PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Miss Murray 2021 Kyleigh Cooper and Miss Murray 2020 Sarah Nelson. (Photo courtesy of Miss Murray Pageant)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
One of the aims of the Miss Murray pageant is to bring the community together, but the coronavirus pandemic has other plans. Still, in a socially distanced world, the Miss Murray pageant crowned in September Kyleigh Cooper whose social initiative is promoting unity.
Cooper, the daughter of Jaren and Angie Cooper is a Murray High alum and senior at Brigham Young University studying history and world dance. She is president of Phi Alpha Theta, the Honors History Society at BYU and works at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures at BYU.
Fluent in Korean after serving an LDS mission to Busan, South Korea, Cooper hopes to pursue a master’s degree in art administration/cultural management.
Q: What inspired you to enter the pageant?
A: Our family friend, Cary Charron, was the emcee of the program for many years and he was the one that originally inspired me to do the pageant. He had always encouraged me to do it. He believed that the Miss America Organization helped women learn leadership skills, gain confidence, build character and earn scholarship money. While I was on my mission, I found out that Cary had unexpectedly passed away. I decided then I needed to do the pageant in honor of him, although it took me a couple years before I felt it was the right time to enter.
Q: What was it like to be named Miss Murray?
A: I was pleasantly surprised to be crowned Miss Murray. The competition was tough. My competitors are all amazing girls who I love and look up to, so I’m truly honored to be Miss Murray. My family and friends like to tease me about being Murray’s biggest fan, which I am. I feel being Miss Murray is the perfect opportunity for me to give back some of that love to my community.
Q: What have you learned about yourself during the process?
A: One thing I’ve learned in life and especially through this pageant process is the value of persistence. Things don’t always work out the first time around. I ran for Miss Murray the previous year and won first attendant. I almost didn’t come back to compete again, but family and friends encouraged me not to give up and give it one more try. There have been several things in my life that I’ve had to re-apply or re-audition for and this was a good reminder to be persistent and never give up.
Q: What is your platform as Miss Murray?
A: My focus as Miss Murray will be to “End the Culture War by Promoting Unity.” We could use more respect, tolerance and kindness in our society for all walks of life. I wholeheartedly believe that when we take the time to genuinely listen to where people are coming from, and why they think the way they do, we can better understand their stance on controversial topics. We will never all agree, but we can become better at knowing the facts on social issues, using common sense and logic and not taking offense to every little thing. We are all humans craving connection, validation and understanding. Working toward all-inclusiveness and unity is a brave and worthy endeavor, and I believe our community and society as a whole would greatly benefit from it.
Q: What inspired your choice of platform?
A: The reason I chose my social impact initiative is that I have always had a fascination for other cultures. I have family members from other countries and an uncle who has traveled the world. He is one of the reasons I have had a strong desire to travel and see the world. I have continued my love of learning about the world through studying history in college. Becoming a part of the World Folk Dance program at BYU has been an amazing experience because I’ve been able to combine my love of learning of other cultures and my love for dance. Because I am a diplomatic person and a good listener, I feel I am able to understand different points of view and in that way able to promote my platform effectively.
Q: Tell us about family and friends who were influential to you, and what are some of the most meaningful things they have done?
A: I wouldn’t be where I am today without my tribe of people. My mom and dad have always supported me through everything…school, dance, mission, crazy adventures, and ideas, like entering a pageant. My mom is my No. 1 fan and my dad is my coach. I couldn’t ask for better parents or sisters, who are always willing to help me. My BYU Folk Dance team director Amy Jex has also been influential in my life. She truly cares about each of her students and I have been a recipient of her kindness and mentorship. She’s made me a better dancer, given me opportunities to showcase my talents, and believed in me.