Reigning Miss Utah, Danica Olson, (left) with Miss Wisconsin. (Photo:

Danica Olson, Reigning Miss Utah

SLM: What makes you confident?

DO: Preparation.

SLM: What would you say to that nerdy little girl sitting at home who won’t go on a date until she blossoms in college?

DO: You never know what the future holds. I was once that nerdy girl with no prospects. Stay true to yourself.

SLM: Choose just one - smart, pretty or funny?

DO: I would choose funny. I think that being funny means you’re being yourself. People will always respect you more for being yourself than for being someone you are not.

Lauren Tucker, Miss Utah County

SLM: This is only your fourth pageant. That means you weren’t doing this as a tiny five year old somewhere like a few of the other contestants. Do you consider yourself at a competitive disadvantage?

LT: Definitely not! I have a great team. I am excited about the week.

SLM: Tell me a surprising fact about yourself:

LT: Saying that I am goofy would be an understatement. I love the smell of a vacuum cleaner. I crave it. I always volunteer to vacuum and if they made a vacuum cleaner air freshener, I would buy in bulk.

SLM: Is the dynamic backstage as friendly as one would expect?

LT: Even friendlier. All of the contestants are down to earth. That is an attribute I admire about the Miss America organization. We are a part of the sisterhood for the week and we stay friends beyond the pageant.

SLM: Disclaim the “beauty queen” stereotype:

We are smart girls. We keep up with current events. This is scholarship pageant with a focus on helping participants define and meet their academic goals.

Clara Pekarcik, Miss Pioneer Valley

SLM: Were you born with glitter on your fingernails?

CP: I am a tomboy at heart. Having never even worn high heels, I shocked my family when I said I wanted to enter a pageant. I was intrigued by the scholarship opportunity. After my first experience, I got bit by the pageant bug.

SLM: If you have seen one pageant, have you seen them all?

CP: We are a part of the Miss America organization. There is a difference with the prime focuses on independence for women, service orientation, and academic progress. With an emphasis on the interview process and academia, this competition enables me to demonstrate confidence and articulation.

SLM: Utah is sometimes considered rather monochromatic in terms of diversity. How does the Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant address this?

CP: We celebrate diversity. Some women have platforms completely focused on diversity awareness. Also, efforts to foster diversity on the local level will result in a diverse showing at the state level.

SLM: Tell me about a time when you have been teased.

CP: I have broken my arms 13 times, which invited silly nicknames like Chicken Little and Toothpick. Also, I was a little overweight and had a gap between teeth during my preteen years. I was never that beautiful, glamorous girl. That is another attribute I admire about this organization: They don’t try to change you. Instead, they help you find ways to enhance who you and become the most beautiful person you can be.

SLM: Describe your support team.

CP: I am lucky to have an encouraging family cheering for me. This event is like the Super Bowl for them and they have been preparing for it all year.

But these scholarship pageants aren't just for the big girls. The Little Miss Program offers youngsters ages 5-9 a chance to delve into competition. Read on for more about this component of the Miss Utah program.