( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Juliana Morehouse is Miss Maine Pageant Winner and Community Educator with the Alzheimer’s Association
ENSPIRE Contributor: Cailin Tennis
Crowned Miss Maine USA in November 2022, Juliana Morehouse is a 23-year-old beauty pageant winner and advocate. She is challenging the status quo of beauty pageants by becoming one of the first married women to compete in the Miss USA pageants. She also uses her platform to work as a community educator with the Alzheimer’s Association, giving presentations across the state on the disease and how to prevent it. A passionate advocate since the disease closely impacted her family, Juliana assists in their efforts to find a cure.
ENSPIRE is excited to highlight someone like Juliana, who is building community and spreading positive change. Before 2022, married women could not compete in the Miss USA competition. Juliana hopes to remind women their lives don’t need to end after marriage. In addition, she is a role model for women on how to be advocates for their passions.
ENSPIRE spoke with Juliana to discuss her experience with Miss USA, her passion for Alzheimer’s research, and her advice for female achievers.
What is it like being Miss Maine USA?
For me, being a pageant titleholder is a great privilege. The pageant world is this network of elite women that I am proud to be a part of. I have worked towards my goal of being Miss Maine USA since I was about 15 years old. My mom was my initial inspiration for jumping into pageantry because she was Miss North Carolina USA in 1994. In addition, she placed second runner-up at Miss USA. Her life was transformed by being Miss North Carolina USA. It launched her career in television news; catapulted her into the National Speakers Association; and provided her with a vast network of successful women.
From an early age, I decided I wanted to have those same opportunities as my mom. I competed in my first pageant at age 16. I placed third runner-up, and from then I was hooked. The glamor of the pageant world mesmerized me. Furthermore, the significant personal growth that comes with preparing for the competition intrigued me.
What galvanized your involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association?
Alzheimer’s Disease has impacted me personally, which is why I am passionate about finding a cure. When I was a child, my grandmother and my aunt had Alzheimer’s Disease at the same time and lived in my home while they were sick. I saw not only how it impacted them as victims of the disease, but also what a toll it took on my mom and grandfather as their caregivers. My aunt was only in her late 40s when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s’ disease, and it was especially tragic to watch her and my grandmother experience it alongside each other.
How do you think being married will change your identity as a woman?
I think being married will push me to be better. I’ve never been married, but from my perspective, marriage refines you. Joining lives with another person humbles you, and I believe more humility will make me an even more impactful woman. My husband-to-be and I make a great team, so I am excited to come together and merge our strengths.
Could you tell us about your passion for writing?
Through my writing, I hope my readers see a different perspective on the world. So much of our culture today tells us we have to think and be a certain way. Conversely, I like to look at life through a different lens. To me, culture shapes the world we live in. It is the system that makes up our society, and the unwritten rules by which we operate. Analyzing the culture is important to me because we have to take notice of what is influencing the way we think and the way we live.
I want to prompt people to look at the culture through different lenses so they can get a better grasp of what is happening and how it affects them. On one hand, I see life romantically and want to illustrate beauty through my writing. Whether it is the beauty of God, a realized dream, a special relationship, or spectacular scenery, I believe it is important to appreciate beauty. I hope to be a voice of reason. Many people don’t think critically or analytically anymore, and I want to restore deep thought to our culture.
Tell us about the most recent rule change in the Miss USA pageant.
For over 70 years, the Miss USA pageant has not allowed married women to compete in their pageants. Yet, all that changed this past summer. Now, married women are allowed to compete. I feel excited to be a part of this change because this shows our society that the modern woman is multifaceted: She can be married and ambitious simultaneously. It is possible to still be youthful and full of life while also being in a loving marriage.
I don’t think marriage should disqualify a woman from pursuing any aspiration in life. Women certainly do not need men by their side to succeed. However, this doesn’t mean women cannot be successful AND be married. Marriage is a valuable institution in our culture. Therefore, we shouldn’t discourage women from pursuing it by banning them from certain facets of society.
What advice would you give to other women?
I would tell them that, mostly, the path to our goals is not linear. I am a planner, and I like to have an idea of what is coming next. However, pursuing this goal taught me that plans typically do not play out exactly how we imagined. If you are a young person pursuing a goal right now, do not feel discouraged if you keep hitting roadblocks or if your current circumstances are not how you’d imagined they would be. My failures along the way have sharpened me as a leader, and they have made me more grateful for the opportunity to be Miss Maine USA.
The result of all this experience is a well-rounded author and community advocate who is a powerful role model. Not only has she revolutionized the pageant community, but also made a huge impact in fundraising for Alzheimer’s research and prevention. Juliana plans to spend the year giving talks to women across Maine on what it means to live an impactful life. Make sure to look out for her in your area. Follow her blog to hear more of her stories and pearls of wisdom.