A stage of 20 women competing for one title: Miss Utah Tech University 2023.
Contestant No. 9 Zoe Sewell, a freshman criminal justice major from Hurricane, was crowned Miss Utah Tech 2023 Nov. 1 at the annual competition held in the Cox Performing Arts Center Auditorium.
The competition began with a dance routine to the song “Woman Up” featuring each of the contestants and the former Miss Utah Tech Carli Gumm, a junior mathematics education major from Minden, Nevada. Each contestant that participated gave their social initiative impact pitch, answered an on-stage question from the judge’s panel, showcased a talent of their choice, and did a red carpet walk in a gown.
The night was hosted by Gumm and Krissia Beatty, former Miss Dixie State 2013 and Miss Utah 2015, with appearances from the current Little Miss Utah Tech 2022 Noelle Gray.
The panel of judges determine the next Miss Utah Tech through a series of questions in a private interview, on-stage question, their stage presence, and more. The panel of judges include:
- Judge No. 1: Shaelie McBride
- Judge No. 2: Chris Kitchen
- Judge No. 3: Marquessa Aikele
- Judge No. 4: Daren Gates
- Judge No. 5: Abby Studdert
- Judge No. 6: Kelli Langi
- Judge No. 7: Emily Ivie
Miss Utah Tech 2023
Sewell’s social impact initiative is on health habits, as she strives to encourage others to do anything they set their mind to.
“Who do you see when you look in the mirror in the morning? And I am not just talking about the color of your hair but behind the eyes. are they happy or are they sad do they aspire to be more and do more? I ask this because you can. In minor changes in your life, you can accomplish anything that you set forth in front of yourself. I will do two things, make resources already on campus easily accessible to students and incoming students and provide workshops on campus that will help you cook for cheap and really good.”
Singing “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman,” Sewell shared her love for singing with the audience and judges for the talent portion of the competition.
The judges question for Sewell was: “What effect, if any, has the decline of the family have on the mental health of young people in our country?”
“For those of you who don’t know, my parents are divorced, and it was really difficult for me,” Sewell said. “I know that I personally struggled with depression because of this, but I am so grateful for them because they did their best to make sure that I was still brought up and loved.”
Contestant No. 17 Katie Walker, a freshman general studies major from West Haven, won the title of first runner-up. Walker’s social impact initiative is on “Hand Me Up” clothing drive.
“Four years ago, I began the process of creating a program that has since benefited families in need across northern Utah by providing clean and accessible clothing in a positive and uplifting environment. My program strives to not only provide clothing but to provide an emotional experience in which individuals can feel a sense of normalcy as they shop through donations.”
Showcasing a lyrical dance, Walker shared her love of dance as her talent for the competition.
The judges question for Walker was: “Is homelessness an issue in the St. George area? If so, what can you do to help combat this issue?”
“I believe that homelessness is an issue and it is growing every day,” Walker said “I think something that I personally can do is further my ‘Hand Me Up’ program, which allows services that are already in place more reachable.”
Contestant No. 10 Gracey Fowers, a sophomore biology major from West Haven, won the title of second runner-up. Fowers’ social impact initiative is on mental health awareness.
Fowers said: “I get to work every day with those who suffer from mental illness. I get to see first hand what truly makes us happy. A journey to a healthy mind is my movement to spread mental health awareness.”
Fowers self-choreographed dance to “Hallelujah” was her talent portion of the competition.
The judges question for Fowers was: “Can you share an example of when you received tough criticism and how you handled it?”
Fowers said: “You know, as a cheerleader at this university, I receive criticism all the time. Even as a pageant, I’ve gotten lots of interview tips and received criticism. These people are just trying to help you. My best bet is to say ‘thank you’ and know it’s from their heart.”
Contestant No. 3 Sammie Bartholomew, a freshman elementary education major from Weber, won the title of third runner-up. Bartholomew’s social impact initiative is on relieving medical debt.
“Health issues are an inevitable part of life. I have seen the overwhelming burden it has put on people in my life. I will spend my time raising funds to help families in our community find that relief for themselves. Together we will build a community that looks out for each other and cares for one another.”
Bartholomew played a “Bumble Boogie” tune on the piano as her talent for the competition.
The judge’s question for Bartholomew was: “Do high schools in the state of Utah place too much emphasis on athletics but neglect support other extra curricular programs like music, dance, theater or debate?”
“Personally, I came from a high school where theater was a really big aspect, so depending on school to school, I think all extracurriculars are valuable in their own way,” Bartholomew said. “I believe the arts should be given credit, but also we shouldn’t discredit sports because they all offer valuable lessons to students.”
- Team player: Contestant No. 1 Tessa welch, a senior nursing major from St. George
- Service award: Contestant No. 2 Kate Backus, a junior exercise science major from Eagle Mountain
- Trailblazer Spirit Award: Contestant No. 4 Elizabeth Martin, a junior chemistry major from Brigham City
- Woman empowerment: Contestant No. 11 Trinity Altena, a sophomore elementary education major from Palm Desert, California