DU Alumni / Magazine Feature / People

Alumna wins Miss Montana competition

Having a positive attitude may sound cliché, but it worked for Brittany Wiser (BA communication ‘09).

Wiser entered the 2009 Miss Montana scholarship program as a 21-year-old first-time contestant. She navigated her way through reams of pageant-preparation books, countless tapes of other competitions and hours of garment fittings but she never stopped using the power of positive thought in preparation for the June competition.

It paid off.

Wiser won. As Miss Montana, Wiser will represent the Big Sky State in the Miss America competition on Jan. 30, 2010, at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The televised program will air live on TLC.

“I went in trying to win, but it was so surreal when I won,” Wiser says. “The whole week I was visualizing winning, I was only thinking about being Miss Montana.”

Wiser garnered several other distinctions in the competition. Her fellow competitors selected her for the Miss Congeniality award. The Miss America organization awarded her with a scholarship for her academic achievement at DU, and she was recognized for her fundraising efforts for the Children’s Miracle Network, which is the Miss America Organization’s national platform.

Despite all the accolades, Wiser says her performance in the interview portion of the competition led to her victory.

“They always say it’s won or lost in the interview room,” Wiser says. “One of the judges wrote me the sweetest letter saying the moment she met me she knew I was it.”

Avice Hoff, executive director of the Miss Montana program, wasted no time in assessing Wiser’s chances in the Miss America competition.

“We really believe Brittany can place in the top 15 at Miss America,” Hoff says.

Winning the pageant also means a major change for Wiser. Interviews, television appearances and personal appearances have started coming her way so she has decided to delay applying for medical school for at least a year.

And, she’ll have to start prepping for Miss America.

“I like to look at it with the perspective that I will bring something fresh,” Wiser says. “I don’t have this huge pageant thing and typical pageant girl engraved in me. Yes, girls who have done it a lot know the tricks of the trade, but I don’t think that it’s anything that I can’t learn. My advantage going in is a positive attitude.”

As Miss Montana, Wiser will follow through with her platform of suicide prevention education — a huge issue that hits home for Wiser and Montana. Wiser personally knew two people who committed suicide and countless others who’ve tried. Montana is among the top-five states in suicide deaths and last year was number one. Suicide ranks 11th among causes of death for Americans, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“I want to make it something people can talk about and something that people can help with,” Wiser says.

Wiser has been asked to be on the board for the Montana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She’s trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), a counseling course that allows Wiser to offer counseling advice. She also is trained in Questions Persuade Refereed (QPR), an awareness course for recognizing the signs of suicide, and is qualified to teach QPR classes to people throughout the state.

The crown and title embodies one more accomplishment in Wiser’s life. She completed her high school courses at Montana State University and graduated summa cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa distinction from the University of Denver. At DU, she taught English as a second language in Dharamsala, India, and she’s a graduate of the Dale Carengie Public Speaking Training Program.

As a full year of appearances and preparation lies before her, Wiser hopes to grow personally and emerge from this experience more eloquent and well spoken — traits she knows will serve her well in her future medical school interviews.

“It’s so weird to hear people call me Miss Montana,” Wiser says. “I couldn’t comprehend what [Miss Montana] did before, but it becomes you.”

Comments are closed.