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Ms. America 2016, a Valley Resident, Unexpectedly Crowned

Sep 25, 2015 02:35PM ● Published by Rhett Wilkinson

Julie Harman is Ms. America 2016 after being named Ms. Utah and the initial national winner unexpectedly relinquished the crown. Harman lives in Midvale. Photo courtesy Julie Harman via Facebook

By Rhett Wilkinson

She didn’t expect to be Ms. America 2016. But last month, she was coronated.

Julie Harman won after Amanda Wamunyima unexpectedly relinquished the crown. Wamunyima wrote in a resignation letter eight days after she won that she discovered a medical condition that will require surgery, leaving her bed ridden “for months on end,” according to Ms. America Pageant CEO Susan Jeske.

The Midvale resident was crowned in late September at Midvale City Hall.

Harman talked about her platform of “self-reliance” while visiting with the Midvale Journal. She talked about platform elements of businesses, charities, service providers, education and politics notions. She spoke about self-preparedness. And Harman pointed out women’s empowerment specifically.

“I want the message to be one of self-preparedness, of women’s issues within the same platform,” she said. “I want it to be about women’s empowerment through the message of self-reliance.”

Harman’s official Ms. Utah Facebook page features images about women’s empowerment and she spoke with the Midvale Journal about pursuing employment and speaking one’s mind. Her advocacy follows a divorce seven years ago, leaving her – with children – with no one to rely upon.

“I realized that self-reliance was the answer,” she said. “I needed to provide for myself financially.”

Harman said that she looks forward to advocating over the next year at schools and fire stations -- she sat down with the Journal after meeting with firefighters -- and elsewhere and pursuing sponsorships and donations. She was the CEO of High Style Company for six-plus years and owned LifeSmiles Photography in Oregon and Tropical Trade Winds. Her work has included photography, modeling, film directing and public speaking. She graduated from BYU-Hawaii in 2003 with a communications degree, an emphasis in International Cultural Studies.

Harman was raised in Spokane, Wash. and lived in Massachusetts. In Utah, Harman has lived in Draper, Spanish Fork and American Fork. She moved to Midvale in June 2011. She believes that she lives in Midvale today “for a reason” and offered many reasons why she likes the town, including Harvest Days. When asked about self-reliance in Utah, particularly, she talked about being prepared for disasters.

“Grand America” was the title of Harman’s campaign and she used the terms “liberty” and “freedom” following a discussion about her platform. While she is not necessarily planning on running for office, she wants to influence politics. When speaking with the Journal about the national debate about Planned Parenthood, she emphasized “personal responsibility” and preparedness.

Harman pointed to personal influencers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, Plato and Mother Teresa. A particular Emerson quote stands out to her: “It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their association; in their property; in their speculative views.”

The Ms. America pageant offers "a crown with a purpose" to single, divorced, married or widowed women ages 26 and older. Unlike other pageants, the prize package is not scholarship but recognition that enables the winner to promote a cause.
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