The Road to Ms. America

Miss America

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As life has a way of teaching us, there are very few roads that are smooth, straight and easy, and so it plays out again in the pageant to determine the new Ms. America 2016, held last August at the Curtis Theatre in Brea, CA. This year’s winner had to face some stiff competition comprised of Evening Gown, Interview, Sportswear and Finalist On-Stage Competition. Among the distinctions of this pageant is that within the umbrella there are three titles awarded. The primary title crown goes to Ms. America, and is open to contestants 26 years of age and up. Also within the same age distinction is the competition for Ms. International. The third pageant title is awarded to Ms. America International, focused on a winner who is 40 years of age and up. The Ms. America pageant’s platform is to back the winners in worthy causes by giving them this wide recognition, whereas other pageants are concentrated around awarding educational scholarships.

August’s Crowning Glory, and a Bump in the Road
This year’s winner of the coveted Ms. America crown was Nigerian Amanda Wamunyima, from Orlando, Florida. In accepting her new crown, she made a commitment to carry out all of the duties and obligations that come with wearing it. Wamunyima’s accomplishments are many, including CNN iReporter and TV host, entrepreneur, model and actress. She founded an organization to help get medical and school supplies to impoverished and underserved nations around the world. So, here’s where the road to Ms. America–at least for one–made a serious twist. This road suddenly produced for Wamunyima a medical condition that would leave her bedridden for so long that she would have been unable to fulfill her duties as Ms. America. So, in keeping with pageant protocol, the crown moved to the pageant’s first runner-up, Ms. Utah Julie Harmon. Harmon was officially proclaimed to the public as the new crowned Ms. America on September 16. There is very little information about exactly why Wamunyima had to relinquish her crown, and everyone is wishing her the best.

The Transfer
Ms. Utah had not even made it all the way home as the first runner-up from the California pageant when she was suddenly offered the new role of Ms. America 2016. And so, Harman turned around, bound for Brea for all the necessities, like photo shoots and gown fittings. Harman shares that she’s looking forward to spreading her unique message of increasing self-reliance and being prepared at the individual level for anything that could happen. Her plan breaks down personal preparedness into five steps that include acting responsibly, committing to a plan, deciding, deploying and encouraging others. She fears that our nation has become too co-dependent and this is her effort to bolster from within. She tells of how she had to learn self-reliance when her marriage ended and she began living as a single mother.

Who is Julie Harmon?
Clearly diversified as well as beautiful, this entrepreneurial single mother of two young daughters shares that her degree with International Cultural Studies and Communications prepared her for better grasping how to be self-reliant in her circumstances, raising her daughters and managing life in general on her own. Her more than 20 years in the image and media business reveal an impressive expanse of diversified capabilities for Harman, who, as a professional photographer has won many awards. To this, add model, actress, film director, musician, talk show host and public speaker. We look forward to getting to better know the new reigning Ms. America!

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