1 of 10
Chad Braithwaite
Miss Davis County Kara Arnold from Bountiful was crowned the new Miss Utah 2012 at Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City Saturday night, winning the title after a week of competition involving 44 girls from across the state of Utah.

Miss Davis County Kara Arnold will be putting medical school at the University of Utah on hold for a year, after walking away from the Miss Utah 2012 pageant Saturday night with a new crown and a new title.

Arnold was named along with nine other finalists at the beginning of competition Saturday, as the original field of 44 contestants from across Utah was cut down to 10 following a week of preliminary competitions at Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City.

In addition to Arnold, the other top five finalists in the pageant included Miss Pleasant Grove Lea Wride, fourth runner-up; Miss Orem Hannah Harkness, third runner-up; Miss Pioneer Valley Ciera Pekarcik, second runner-up and Miss Duchesne County Brittani Reinhardt, first runner-up.

The top ten finalists named Saturday night also included Miss Nebo Rebecca Johnson, Miss Draper Brooke Lavery, Miss Cache Valley Lindsey Lopez, Miss Sandy Vanessa Watson, and Miss Washington County Krissia Beatty.

Arnold, who recently graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in biochemistry, will represent Utah throughout the year and at the Miss America pageant in January 2013. She will also receive a $10,000 scholarship, serve as a representative of the Children's Miracle Network, and promote her personal platform, "Discover Your Potential — Step Up with STEM." STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Arnold's platform focuses on encouraging women to explore opportunities in those fields.

Putting her schooling on hold for a year will be worth the chance to have the Miss Utah title, Arnold said Saturday night during the competition.

"Both experiences I know will be amazing," she said. "There are so many reasons why Miss Utah will prepare me to be a better physician in the future."

The five semi-finalists at the pageant each received a $600 scholarship, while the fourth runner-up also received a $600 scholarship, the third runner-up an $800 scholarship, the second runner-up a $1,500 scholarship and the first runner-up a $3,000 scholarship. In total, more than $170,000 worth of scholarship money and awards were given Saturday.

Additionally, the 44 competitors at the Miss Utah pageant raised $39,000 and dedicated 876 hours of service to the Children's Miracle Network during their time as titleholders. The Miss America Organization, which adopted the Children's Miracle Network as its national platform in 2007, has helped to raise more than $7 million for the charity since the beginning of January, and more than $54 million since its formal adoption.

Other awards given Saturday night included an award for the contestant who raised the most money for the Children's Miracle Network, which went to Jessica Francis. The community service award went to Lea Wride, while the Miss America Academic Scholarship award went to the new Miss Utah Kara Arnold. The People's Choice award was given to Alexandria Murrillo, the Spirit of Miss Utah award to Heather Marie Bolz and the Glenn Harmon Instrumentalist Award to Hannah Harkness and Rebecca Johnson.

Preliminary award winners included Brooke Lavery, Brooke Christensen, and Brittani Reinhardt in Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear, as well as Kara Arnold, Hannah Harkness and Lea Wride in talent.

Urban Talent Agency also sponsored awards this year, giving winners a chance to audition for top agencies in the U.S. Alisha Lee, Miss UVU; Ciera Pekarcik, Miss Pioneer Valley and Brooke Christensen, Miss Rocky Mountain, claimed these awards in the areas of vocal performance, dance performance and modeling.

The Sadie Huish Memorial Scholarship for community service was given to Vanessa Watson, Miss Sandy.