Miss Utah devoted to God, diabetes research
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Although Katie Millar will represent Utah's highest standard of beauty, fitness and conversation for the next 12 months, this newly named pageant winner from Highland is determined to remain down-to-earth.

The 19-year-old's life changed drastically Saturday night when she bested 53 other Miss Utah Competition contestants at Salt Lake City's Capitol Theatre, coincidentally on the 26th wedding anniversary of her parents, Bret and Rita Millar.

New opportunities - TV appearances; meetings with government officials, business leaders and community groups; plus the nationally televised Miss America competition that ramps up in September and airs in January - won't change the newly crowned Miss Utah.

"Even though I'll be wearing the Miss Utah crown, you can still expect me on Saturday morning to be out mowing my lawn," Millar said Sunday, adding that she'll never be above pulling weeds and playing in the garden.

Winning the competition has given Millar the chance to talk about an event that did alter her life, though. She was 13 when her older sister, Amy Jo, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, known as juvenile diabetes. For Millar, the disease and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation constitute much more than a beauty pageant platform.

"It was life-changing and very overwhelming," Millar said of her sister's diagnosis. "I am dedicated to helping this foundation find a cure, so other families won't have to go through what my family and so many others have to go through."

Millar said it was an honor to meet and compete with Utah's finest young women, the "cream of the crop."

"I felt like I had a one in 54 chance to do well," she said. "I appreciate that the judges saw my desire to make a difference and help."

While she has plenty of talent to draw on - she's an accomplished pianist, singer and dancer - Millar decided to play the electric violin for judges because "it was a little more unique and memorable."

Only one school year away from earning a bachelor's degree in neuroscience at Brigham Young University, Millar said she was motivated to win the pageant by the scholarship opportunities - she won $10,000 for her education Saturday night. After her reign is over, she'll continue working toward her goal of earning a doctorate degree and become a neuropsychologist, she said.

Millar said religious conviction has guided her to this point in her life - right where she wants to be.

"That drives my behavior more than my passion for the diabetes foundation, more than music and more than education," she said. "My God got me to where I am today."

During her year of Miss Utah service, Millar said she will promote diabetes research and try to influence young people, and particularly women.

"I will try to inspire them to discover who they are and let that bloom and drive them," Millar said. "They can do miracles if they put their minds to it."

abrunson@sltrib.com