The Road To Miss Utah is About More Than Being Beautiful

The+Road+To+Miss+Utah+is+About+More+Than+Being+Beautiful

By Natalie Colby, News Editor

Nina Pita, former Miss Wasatch, present Miss Rocky Mountain and a Miss Utah hopeful, competed in her first pageant her senior year of high school in hopes of gaining scholarship money and exciting experiences. In turn, she discovered a new world of opportunities and passion that she has embraced over the past couple of years. Going into her first pageant, the local Miss Wasatch competition, the 19-year-old increased her gym time because of the swimsuit portion (that has since been eliminated), brushed up on her local knowledge, practiced her interview skills and perfected her talent, a Color Guard routine. Her younger sister, Natalie Pita, served as her hostess for the pageant and admitted that they mostly just winged it the first time.

“Neither of us really knew what we were doing and we even changed her talent dance the morning of the pageant,” her sister said.

Her lack of previous experience did not serve as much of a stumbling block for the first-timer.

“I was determined,” Pita said. “I had never really wanted anything so bad in my life.”

After winning Miss Wasatch 2018, she then went on to compete in the 2019 Miss Utah competition and became the first woman to ever perform Color Guard as her talent in the state pageant, which she loved to bring to the stage.

“It was high-paced, high-energy, all-day-long practices and then the performances were just amazing,” Pita said. 

Even though her directors thought it was a very impressive performance, Pita did not place in the top 12. This, however, did not deter her in the slightest.

“I know that I felt so strong and so focused at the end, that I was like, I can do this again,” Pita said. “I have what it takes to be Miss Utah and I want that.”

She returned to an open pageant, Miss Rocky Mountain, which does not require competitors to live in a certain city or county. In this pageant, Pita had a renewed focus on strengthening her talent and focused more on her social impact initiative. Out of the 25 women, Pita won the highest honor. In addition to her position as Miss Rocky Mountain, Pita is also a full-time student at the University of Utah, taking 18 credit hours this semester. She is also a member of the U’s Color Guard team and an intern at the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum. To maintain her packed schedule, she said she focuses on the tasks at hand. 

“Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but at the end of the day you can’t push yourself harder than what you got,” Pita said. 

Following the beauty queen’s second pageant win, she became very dedicated to her social impact initiative, Justice for Journalism, which aims to connect citizens to their local media outlets and form healthy relationships between the media and the people. The pageant queen is currently working with elementary schools and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox in a creative writing program, through which the students get monthly prompts and then the winner is granted a certificate from Cox.

“This helps them realize that their words have power and they need to use them responsibly, but also, imagination is key for growth,” Pita said. 

Pita is also in collaboration with high school-age journalists and local legislators to try and pass the New Voices Act, which has been passed in 14 other states and gives students their freedom of the press back. She hopes this can help free them up so they can write what’s important for their communities.

 Finally, she is connecting citizens to their local media outlets through monthly media exploration nights, where she chooses a local media publication and invites community members to come out and ask questions and learn about the outlet. 

“I want to make sure that when I compete for Miss Utah I can say ‘look, I can make a state impact as a local titleholder, just imagine what I can do when I win Miss Utah,’” Pita said. 

In preparation for the Miss Utah 2020 competition, she is also working to improve and expand her talent. Because the organization has gotten rid of the swimsuit portion of the competition, the talent is now worth 40%, so she is really focusing on that aspect. After the positive reaction to her talent in her first Miss Utah competition, she said, “I knew I had to come back and show them I can do so much more.”

Additionally, Pita practices her interviews twice a week and is really hoping to win big at the upcoming pageant in June. 

“My goal is definitely to win, and winning Miss Utah would be an incredible experience. To go and compete at Miss America, it’s not only an amazing [opportunity] to serve your state, but it’s an amazing accomplishment to have for your life,” she said. 

While Pita realizes that there are a lot of negative stereotypes and assumptions that follow pageants, especially that they can objectivize women, she counters this argument with her personal experience and that the entire pageant system has shifted to be more of a scholarship competition.

Her younger sister also said she has seen significant growth in her older sister, both in her confidence, social skills and her focus and dedication to her social impact initiative. 

“It is unreal to feel so confident and beautiful in your own skin on stage,” the beauty queen said. “Pageant girls are not just airheads, we’re smart girls and we are passionate and we want a lot for our lives.”

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@natalie__colby