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Former reporter to represent Idaho in ‘Miss For America Strong’ pageant in August

Local

REXBURG — Former EastIdahoNews.com reporter Natalia Hepworth never expected to be a pageant queen. It wasn’t on her radar until her hairstylist repeatedly encouraged her to give it a try.

What she used to see as “just another thing” to invest her time into, has become something much more to the newly-crowned Miss Idaho for America, who competed for the title in June in Idaho Falls. Pageantry has become a way to encourage and empower other women as she shares her “VIP” platform, which stands for “value, identity and purpose.”

“I wanted to choose a platform that has longevity and that wasn’t something that was associated with any particular organization,” Hepworth says. “I really wanted to push my VIP message. I feel like there is an epidemic in society, as far as people’s self-image, and people focusing on the outward in order to appease the inward, and I really feel like beauty starts on the inside first and everyone has a purpose. And God has a plan for everybody.”

For Hepworth, VIP also stands for “visualize, investigate, pursue.” She says she is especially passionate about encouraging the younger generation to embrace their personal gifts and take initiative in becoming who they want to be.

“In order to go anywhere in life, you have to start with a vision first,” she says. “Embracing your uniqueness and doing what you feel passionate about and what you feel is your purpose, and not needing permission from other people.”

Hepworth was born in Jamaica and moved with her family to Rexburg in 2000. She’s the oldest of nine kids and spent six years on the popular ProForm Airborne Jump Rope Team. She graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2015 and landed a reporting job with EastIdahoNews.com shortly after. She was one of the first reporters hired when the site launched in 2015 and she spent four years reporting the news.

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Natalia Hepworth of Rexburg, center, was crowned Miss Idaho For America Strong at the state pageant in June and will compete for the national title in Las Vegas in August. | Courtesy photo.

In 2019, Hepworth moved to Lehi, Utah, for a job with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Welfare and Self Reliance Division. When COVID-19 sent everyone home from the office in 2020 to work remotely, she decided to make her way back to her hometown in Rexburg.

She now works for Latter-day Saint Charities and JustServe.org as a content strategist.

“I love it,” she says. “We tell the stories of beneficiaries throughout the world and show where our finances are going.”

Hepworth also teaches writing for communication careers and an introduction to journalism class as an adjunct professor for BYU-Idaho.

Hepworth gives a lot of her time to volunteering, as well. Among other volunteer efforts, she has worked with Madison Cares, with adults with special needs, and as a volunteer home health aide. She also helped organize TedX Rexburg, an event that brings speakers from near and far to share new ideas.

Hepworth says she was drawn to the Miss For America Strong pageant system partly because of the pageant’s inclusion of women of all ages and in all stages of life.

“The fun thing about this pageant is that, unlike other pageants, it doesn’t age out,” she says. “You can compete at any age.”

Hepworth is excited to represent her beloved home state of Idaho in the upcoming national pageant.

“I wouldn’t say that I look like a typical Idahoan,” she says, “But I think it’s important that I represent the state because Idaho does have diversity, Idaho does have unique things about it that are a draw. East Idaho is a melting pot, especially because of the university here.”

The Miss For America Strong Pageant will take place in Las Vegas in August.

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