My Farewell as Miss Utah 2018

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

The moment I was crowned, I felt a surge of different emotions but above everything: gratitude. Gratitude to God for helping me to achieve a dream for which I had so much passion; gratitude to friends and family who dedicated so much to helping me win; gratitude for the opportunity of a lifetime. This past year, there have been plenty of changes — some I have agreed with and others I haven’t. There have been times where I’ve felt frustrated or like I couldn’t keep going…but then I always went back to that feeling the night I was crowned.

Competing at Miss America was one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget the first time I stood on the Boardwalk Hall stage and how my eyes welled up with thankful tears. Representing Utah was such a privilege and I felt honored to receive the Non-Finalist Talent Award, but the best part was the sisterhood I was able to develop with powerful and confident women from every part of the country. Even though there were many uncertainties surrounding the competition, sharing the experience with 50 other women gave us courage in knowing we were not alone.

While Miss America was a monumental part of my year, my favorite parts have been the little moments the cameras didn’t always capture: The excitement that dawned on kids’ faces when I would play “Baby Shark” on the violin; power-posing with students of all ages; the conversations about leadership and mental health with teenagers; the looks of hope and happiness on hospital children’s faces; the wisdom I was privy to through interviewing Forever Miss Utahs; long travels with Leean; serving and laughing with the 2019 candidates; and more, are those I am most grateful for. Miss Utah has always been more than just a pageant — it’s a job about making people across the state feel important, and I’m lucky to have had it.

This year would not have been possible without the army of people supporting me.

First, my sponsors: Thank you. Thank you for the tanning, dresses, jewelry, eyelashes, haircare, salon services, makeup, fitness services, apparel, and more. Each of you are so generous and attentive. Thank you all for being so kind to me! You have become my great friends over the year. And special thank you to Murdock Hyundai for being supporters of our organization for TEN years! I was always safe and riding in style thanks to you.

To the Miss Utah Board: Thank you for all of your love and support throughout this year. It’s been a transitional year for all of us, and I’ve been so impressed by how you have all taken all this challenge head-on.

Me with Carly Condie and Whitney Thomas right after I was crowned Miss Utah 2018

And special thank you to Carly, Whitney, and Leean:

Carly, thank you so much for all of your support and kindness throughout this year. You’ve always built me up and have made me feel so confident in this role. I love that we both got to handle these new changes together as a team. I love you!

Whitney, I owe so much of this experience to you! Thank you for helping me plan and fulfill my goals this year. Thank you for taking the time to help my blog posts look their best, helping me forward my initiatives, and being my confidante and friend from the beginning to the end. Thank you so much, sister!

Me with Leean on our way to an appearance

Leean, I’m going to miss our adventures together! From braving snowstorm after snowstorm to traveling to all the remote corners of Utah, there’s no one else I would rather travel with. You’ve understood what this year has been better than anyone, and it’s been a privilege to share it with you. I will always treasure our conversations, all of the fun memories involving Diet Coke and ice cream, trips to Maverik, and much more. I will miss you. Utah will miss you.

To  Lyle Larsen, the Wilsons, the Millards, Brooke Maxwell, and Kara North: Thank you for caring about me and for helping me become so prepared for Miss America. You freely gave your advice and help, and then so many of you also traveled to support me at Miss America. I am blessed to have met each of you through this experience.  I’m grateful for our friendship and love you all so much.

To Axuray and Claire: Axuray, you’re my favorite ray of sunshine and sharing this year with you has been such a blessing. Your kindness that you share wherever you go has always inspired me and I’ve been lucky to witness your example. I love you, sister! Claire, your drive and desire to work for what you want inspires me! I’ve been lucky to get a few months with you and am excited to see all that you accomplish as Miss Utah’s Outstanding Teen! I love you.

Jess, Katina, and the Miss GSL Board: Thank you. I was so lucky to have such a great team to prepare me for Miss Utah and Miss America. You sacrificed countless hours to help me become the best I could be for each phase of competition, and you will never know just how much that meant to me. You’ve become my close friends and I’m excited to continue working with you!

Tyson: Thank you for being the ultimate supportive boyfriend in this process. I’m so lucky to be with someone who realizes the significance of this opportunity. Accompanying me to events, taking picture after picture, and listening to me talk your ear off about my year, are just a few of the things you’ve done to support me. I love you and I’m so excited for our future together.

To my Johnson family: thank you so much for loving and supporting me every step of the way. You’ll never know just how much it has meant to me. I’m lucky to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who have been with me for the whole ride. You’ve been the best cheering section I could ever ask for. Thank you for coming to Miss America and cheering me on each year at Miss Utah. I love you all.

Matt and Jake: Thank you for being such great brothers and being there for each and every pageant! You two are the cutest and have the best hearts. I’m so lucky to have you.

Rachel: I love you and am so grateful to have you as a sister. You’ve always been there to cheer me on both in real life and through Instagram comments. Thank you for coming to my events, supporting me, and always providing a listening ear for whenever I needed it. Thank you and I love you.

Ally: Competing last year with you is a memory I’m so glad we have. Thank you for all of your encouragement, love, and support from the moment I won until now. I love you!

Dad: Thank you for caring about my year. It meant so much when you would ask what appearance I was leaving for or what I had been up to as Miss Utah. You’ve been so supportive and have really believed in the power of this program. I love you!

Aimee: We all miss you so much. Each Utah themed gift you gave me to commemorate my year, how you cared so much to watch each Miss Utah Monday and read every blog post, and so much more, are memories I will always treasure. Even though I’m heartbroken your gone, your spirit of love, service, enthusiasm, and your zest for life inspire me every day. I love you forever.

Mom: I’m here because of you! My love for this organization was born because I grew up watching your passion for it and the women you helped prepare for it. You’ve sacrificed so much to help me achieve this dream and have always been the ultimate example of how to treat others with kindness. Thank you for traveling with me, helping me brainstorm ideas on how to be a better titleholder, reading my articles and watching each video, and for building me up. You’ll forever be the queen and I love you.

To the next Miss Utah: I am so excited for you. This job will push you in ways you couldn’t even imagine. There are so many opportunities to look forward to, but the most important is your opportunity to make a lasting impact wherever you go. Always be on the lookout for little eyes who are watching and waiting for your attention, always ask what more you can do, have an attitude of gratitude, be proactive, push yourself, and always remember what a blessing this is.

Thank you, Utah. It has been a privilege and honor to represent and wear your name across my heart each day.

In the words of Taylor Swift:

Long live all the mountains we moved
I had the time of my life with you.
All my love,
Miss Utah 2018
Jesse Craig

1 thought on “My Farewell as Miss Utah 2018

  1. Ruthanne Bridges

    You are so terrific, Jesse! I’m so happy for you that you had this opportunity and did so much with it! What an awesome family you have; and you have carried all the rest of us in the Orem organization along with you. It has been a real high! I wish the best of everything to you going forward.

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