Miss Montana 2017, Maddie Murray, has completed half of her “Gifting Your Gift of Service” Crown to Classroom Tour, wrapping up at her hometown of Corvallis last week.

Murray, a 19-year-old sophomore at Gonzaga University, is majoring in Human Physiology and hopes to become a physician assistant. She competed in the Miss America pageant in September, completes service with non-profit organizations, is an ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and has spoken to over 7,500 youth in eastern Montana, Missoula, Alberta and the Bitterroot Valley.

“Today marks the sixth month of my reign as Miss Montana,” she said Monday. “To come back to the place where I was when I first started down this path and see everyone and give my message here was really humbling.”

Murray said she enjoys connecting with students, taking photos with them and presenting her inspiring story of gifting your gift.

“Your gift means anything that you’re good at from the gift of math, sports, arts, to even the gift of kindness,” she said. “I also talk about the importance of making goals and pursuing them. Sometimes we do have things we struggle with and that’s OK.”

Her key points are what people can gain from volunteering, recognizing their gift, planning goals and pursuing happiness.

“I talk about how giving your gift can take a few minutes — like complimenting another, or it can take longer like traveling overseas,” Murray said.

Her platform was inspired by people who have given back to her. She has co-led four medical mission trips to Nicaragua and is motivated by the idea that “if you can’t pay it back, pay it forward.” She encourages youth to volunteer, learn the benefits of volunteering, give your talents and realize that service isn’t a punishment and doesn’t need to take a lot of time or money.

On Nov. 27, Murray spoke in Beth Driggers English class at Hamilton High School. She showed a video with individuals in a community paying it forward to complete a circle of giving.

The interactive portion of her presentation included students giving large presents to other students.

“We each have things we’re gifted in — like talents,” Murray said. “There may be things we aren’t gifted in so, we need to share our gifts and help one another out.”

Hamilton seniors Hannah Bauder, JC Gordon, Ocean Horne-DeBoney, Sky Lopez, Mark Joyner and Matt Brown helped with the presentation. They gave away large colorful packages then received a gift.

Murray encouraged students to pursue their dreams. She gave the example of herself continuing to compete in pageants until she won the title and scholarships, making friends along the way.

“We don’t know what people are going through,” she said. “Give your gifts through senior projects, your everyday life, and personal goals.”

Murray encouraged students to find their gifts (talents and passions) to better the lives of others and their own. She inspired students to achieve their dreams through goal setting, strengthen relationships through teamwork and improving their well-being by making others happy.

The next Miss Montana Scholarship and Miss Montana’s Outstanding Teen competitions are June 10-16, in Glendive. To book Miss Montana for corporate functions, entertainment, leadership development or special events, or for information on becoming a contestant, contact Executive Director, Jan Holden at holdenmissmt@gmail.com