April is the Month of the Military Child, and this former Joint Base Lewis-McChord military child is shining in the spotlight.
Now-21, Isabel Murray, a junior at the University of Washington-Tacoma, was recently named Miss Pierce County.
Murray is the daughter of Suzanne Murray, a registered nurse at Madigan Army Medical Center, and Col. Robert Murray, director of the Cyber Electromagnetic Activities, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps. Her two brothers, Ryan, 24, and Sean, 23, are both students at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Murray was crowned at the Miss Pierce County Scholarship Program competition at Pierce College in Puyallup March 10.
Contestants in the Miss Pierce County pageant must be between the ages of 17 and 25 and reside, work or go to school in their county. They compete in several scored categories: talent; personal interview with the judges; evening wear; swim suit/lifestyle and fitness; and onstage interview.
Each contestant selects a platform. During the interview portions of the event, the contestant is evaluated on her commitment to her chosen issue. Some past platform issues have included child advocacy, volunteerism, domestic violence, literacy, diabetes awareness, eating disorders and the nation’s homeless population.
Murray’s platform for the pageant is “liberty and justice for all” and involves literacy and getting young, incarcerated felons back into society.
“I’m very passionate about my platform, because when I was going to school in Georgia, many of the people I knew had either been in or went to jail,” she said. “Most went to jail for (infractions) that could have been resolved with community service.”
As for her military roots, Murray said she had a remarkable childhood.
“My dad would receive orders nearly every two years, so we’d pick up and move to his next duty station,” she said. “I had the unique opportunity to live and travel all over the United States and Asia.”
Born in Paris, Texas, Murray later moved with her family to Fort Sill, Okla. Next, the family moved to South Korea, where she attended Seoul American Elementary School for fourth and fifth grade.
“Living in Korea was great, because my mom is Korean, so I got to meet and get to know my Korean family,” Murray said.
The family next moved to Camp Shelby, in Mississippi, where she attended sixth and seventh grade.
In Germany, Murray attended Heidelberg High School through her sophomore year, where she pursued her love of dance and earned certification as a ballerina with the Royal Academy of Dance.
Murray said ballet was one of the constants throughout her years as a military child.
“Ballet was the one thing on every single base that I could join right when I got there,” she said.
Murray was able to show off some of her dancing expertise through her contemporary style tango in the talent portion of the Miss Pierce County pageant.
Her family moved to Fort Gordon, Ga., in her junior year, and she graduated from Lakeside High School, in Evans, Ga., in 2015. Shortly after graduation, the family moved to Washington.
Murray said she’s looking forward to the next steps in the competition. She has enjoyed making more than 20 new girlfriends and has learned a lot about public speaking and community service in the process.
She next goes on to the Miss Washington competition in King County in July and, if selected for the state’s highest pageant honor, will compete at the Miss America competition in the fall. The winner of that pageant receives a $50,000 scholarship.
“The scholarships are one of the main reasons (young ladies) compete,” said Jennifer Goble, executive director of the Miss Pierce County competition. “Each (young lady) who competes gets a scholarship.”
Murray received a $2,000 scholarship as Miss Pierce County. After her college graduation next year, she said she plans to go to law school and become a criminal defense attorney.