Kadie Latimer didn’t set out to be Miss Montana USA; that’s just how it turned out when she decided to try something new.
Latimer, 23, was spending her time last year working as a model and going to school at Flathead Valley Community College, when one of her bosses at the Rocky Mountain Entertainment Agency suggested that she look into pageants.
“Doing pageants wasn’t my thing,” Latimer said in an interview last week.
But when it was explained that pageant work can boost a resume and that training for a pageant could help with some of the shyness Latimer comes by naturally, she decided to go for it.
Starting in February 2013, Latimer started training. That following October, she competed in the Miss Montana USA pageant in Missoula, and in what she considered a surprising result, she won.
“It was my first pageant, and it ended up going pretty well,” Latimer said.
With that win, Latimer is headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Miss USA pageant, which will be televised on NBC on June 8. It’s a major accomplishment for Latimer, who two years ago hadn’t thought she’d be on the national and international stage.
The Miss USA pageant differs from the Miss America competition in that there isn’t a talent competition in Miss USA, and the woman who wins the title of Miss USA goes on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
Miss USA is also televised internationally, and the June 8 event will showcase the top 15 competitors, and will then move on to top 10, top five and then the winner. Miss Montana USA has never made it to the top 15, Latimer said, and she would consider it a win if she could get into that special grouping.
Latimer is no stranger to competition; in high school, she was a four-sport athlete, competing in track, basketball, volleyball and softball. She spent her freshman and sophomore years at Flathead High School, then moved on to Glacier High School when it opened for her junior and senior year.
After high school, she attended Montana Tech in Butte, and came back to the Flathead to go to aesthetician school. But while working at a local plastic surgeon’s practice, she felt drawn to the medical profession, and will be part of this year’s graduating class at FVCC with a two-year degree in medical assisting.
Having to study for school while also tending to her duties as Miss Montana USA, which take her all over the state, is a lot to have on her plate, but Latimer likes it that way.
“I’d rather be busy than be bored,” she said.
Once she took on the state title, Latimer decided to take on a platform educating teenagers and children about the dangers of drinking and driving, and also stressing the benefits of wearing a seat belt.
To train for her upcoming competition – “I feel like I can never be prepared enough,” she said – Latimer has a coach from Texas who walks her through mock interviews, and a director from Seattle who arranges for all the other aspects of pageantry, from hair and makeup to dresses and dieting.
Exercise is a familiar part of her life, but learning to diet appropriately was a bit of a challenge, she said. She’ll be judged on her fitness level in the swimsuit category, her speech skills in the interview category, and her overall appearance in the evening gown category.
Montana doesn’t have a large pageant culture, nor are there ever high expectations for Montana contestants, she said, but Latimer hopes to place in the top 15 or be chosen as the “Top 16” selection by online voters.
Otherwise, her goal is to go soak up the experience and continue strolling down a path she didn’t plan on walking.
“I’m just going to go there and have a good time,” Latimer said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The Miss USA competition airs June 8 on NBC. For more information, visit www.missmontanausa.com.
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