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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton High grad represents Utah at national pageant

Oct 12, 2023 01:19PM ● By Peri Kinder

Herriman resident and Riverton High grad Rian Haslam represented Utah at the National Sweetheart Pageant in Hoopeston, Illinois at the beginning of September. (Courtesy of Haslam)

When Rian Haslam took the stage at the National Sweetheart Pageant in Hoopeston, Illinois, she represented not only Herriman City and Riverton High School, but all the young women in Utah dedicated to service.

Haslam, 24, is studying radiation therapy at Weber State University and although she didn’t win the national title, she was grateful for the chance to meet the other contestants and serve as Miss Utah Sweetheart Volunteer.

“It’s been a journey over the last several months and it’s been super fun and such a great organization to be involved with,” Haslam said. “It was the most incredible experience I think I will ever have. I know I will never take it for granted and will be so grateful that I had the opportunity to represent Utah at a national level. I would have never thought an opportunity that big would ever be something I would be able to do.”

Her platform for the pageant was focused on serving seniors in the community. She has worked in healthcare for the last several years and realized how the small acts of kindness and positive interactions with senior patients made a difference. She said the older generation often feels forgotten and just wants to be seen and heard. 

“I see how small acts of kindness can really go a long way in somebody’s life,” she said. 

Haslam recently participated in Honor Flight Utah, an organization that takes war veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials and monuments dedicated to their service. She was part of the welcome home ceremony that was a big celebration for these vets. 

“A lot of them never got a welcome home from war, so that’s their second chance at getting a warm welcome home for all their accomplishments. That’s probably been one of my favorite things I’ve been able to participate in,” she said. “It’s nothing super big that I’m necessarily doing, it’s just being a nice friend or doing simple activities or just hanging out.”

For the talent portion of the pageant, Haslam shared a monologue she wrote with her mother, Traci Haslam, that explained her journey to a healthcare career and the struggles that brought her to where she is today. 

Her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Haslam was in high school. Watching her grandmother go through radiation treatments and watching her heal gave Haslam direction for her future profession. 

“I’m one of about six people in the radiation therapy program at Weber, so it’s been a huge accomplishment,” she said. “It took a lot to get here but it’s been so worth it.”

Held each year in Hoopeston, Illinois, the scholarship pageant started in 1939 as a way to select the Sweetcorn Queen. The next year, neighboring states sent their own pageant contestants and the competition was changed to the National Sweetcorn Festival and the Miss Sweetcorn title became National Sweetheart.

Haslam’s considering another run at the Miss Utah Volunteer title and appreciates the $3,000 scholarship she was awarded. She never dreamed she’d have the chance to be in a national pageant but said the event has changed her life.

“I never would have thought that I would have been given such a huge opportunity to represent Utah,” she said. “It’s such a privilege and an honor that the Miss Utah Volunteer board of directors have trusted me to take on this role and have been guiding me through the process. It seriously meant a lot to me.” λ