By Staff Sgt. Mary Flynn
National Guard Bureau
Utah National Guard member and the 2007 Miss Utah Sgt. Jill Stevens smiles after crossing the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington Oct. 28. Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary K. Flynn, National Guard Bureau.
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ARLINGTON, Va. (11/06/2007) - What’s another marathon, really, when you’re Jill Stevens?The 2007 Miss Utah is no stranger to the physical and mental discipline required to knock out 26.2 miles. She ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington on Oct. 28 finishing in about 3.5 hours.
It’s the third marathon she’s run since winning the pageant title in June. “I love challenges,” she said. “That’s why I joined the military.”
No, that’s not a misprint. For one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, Miss Utah becomes Sgt. Stevens of the Utah National Guard.
She trades in her high heels and gown for combat boots and ACUs, her bouquet of roses for a combat medic aid bag, and her sparkling tiara for a beret or patrol cap.
Wearing the uniform, she says, feels more natural to her. “I’m first-off a Soldier. Always,” said Stevens, who had originally laughed at the idea of participating in a beauty pageant. “I don’t do heels. I didn’t even know where to buy them!”
Having deployed as a combat medic with the 1st of the 211th Aviation Group in April 2004 to Afghanistan, Steven’s lifestyle isn’t what one would expect of the typical beauty queen.
The 25-year-old had previously shared the same opinion of beauty pageant contestants that many people hold. “I thought that all these girls do is wave their hand, look pretty and do nothing. I didn’t want to be associated with that.”
She soon discovered, however, that the organization actually had a lot in common with the military. The Miss America program promotes education and teaches leadership, she says. It also promotes fitness and well-being, while focusing on bringing out one’s best.
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