Lovell girl prepares for pageant in Laramie

Patti Carpenter

How did a cowgirl from a cattle ranch in Lovell end up in a fancy dress and high heels at a pageant in Laramie?

“Obviously, someone thought I should do this,” explained 19-year-old Mona Jordan. “I thought the experience could help me build confidence. Mostly, I just thought it would be a good experience and a fun one, too.”

It came as a huge surprise to Jordan when she received a letter in the mail recently inviting her to be part of the National American Miss competition (NAM). The invitation, extended only after being nominated, invited Jordan to participate in a “call” and the opportunity to ultimately represent the state of Wyoming in a national level competition. So far, Jordan still doesn’t know who nominated her.

Jordan and her mother Aubry Jolley headed down to the open call, held in Laramie in late February. It was Jordan’s first time competing in anything even remotely similar to a pageant. Jordan said she began to get cold feet about halfway to Laramie but decided to go ahead and compete, since she was almost there already.

As it turned out, only half of young women responding to the call were selected to go on to the state competition. She was one of them.

NAM is not a beauty pageant. Actually, it’s far from it. According to the program’s website, it is “founded on the principle of fostering positive self-image by enhancing natural beauty within.” To that end, the pageant is designed to teach life-long skills such as interviewing, public speaking and presentation in front of a live audience. The scoring for the pageant is based entirely on personality, confidence and communication. In fact, girls are asked to be themselves, regardless of braces, glasses, skin problems, varying heights and body types.

Jordan, a typical country girl, is more comfortable in denim than fancy dresses, but said she doesn’t mind dressing up now and then. She said she liked the fact that the competition rules encouraged contestants to just be themselves. Though she’ll be wearing a formal dress for one segment of the competition, the rest of the events call for mostly businesslike attire, with one group performance calling for matching casual outfits.

“It seems like they are looking for people who are career-oriented,” Jordan said. “They like to keep things natural with not too much makeup. They want girls to dress their age.”

Since she made the cut at the open call, she is invited to compete in the NAM state contest to be held in Loveland, Colorado, in June. In addition to Wyoming, three other states will hold their competition in Loveland, including Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. Participants will only compete against girls from their home state. Jordan said she wasn’t sure how many girls she would be competing against from Wyoming.

The state competition is a four-day event. Participants are required to perform in three areas at the event: a formal wear contest, personal introduction to a live audience and one-on-one interviews with 10 judges, fielding questions based on a resume submitted in advance. Thirty percent of participants’ scores will be based on communication skills during the personal introduction, 30 percent based on poise during the formal wear competition and 30 percent based on personality, communication and confidence during the interview segment of the competition.

Jordan must also complete a local community service project before the state competition. She is working on her project with her neighbor JeriLynn Love who is a business teacher at Riverside High School in Basin. The details of the project have not been finalized yet.

Jordan has also signed up for five optional activities. Participation in extra activities will take her one step closer to representing her home state at the national level.

If she prevails at the state competition, she will be eligible to compete at a NAM national pageant in the fall, in Florida. Prizes for the state and national competition include generous scholarships and other prizes.

“It’s definitely an out-of-the-box sort of thing for me to do,” Jordan said. “But I think it will be interesting and fun, and I’m actually looking forward to doing it.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting the family directly or going to the National American Miss website

Jordan graduated from Lovell High School in 2023. While a student at LHS she was on the dance team, a member of the National Honor Society and took part in the school’s FFA program. She is currently a freshman at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, majoring in biology, with a minor in art, and has a keen interest in anthropology.