"It was definitely a growing and learning experience," said Stevens. "Having been a soldier and trained for marathons, I thought I was mentally prepared for it. But it was by far the biggest challenge I've ever experienced mentally."
She's still touched, however, by the response from the viewers who chose her as the "America's Choice" contestant, an addition to the pageant's final 15 that was voted on by the public.
"That was such an honor. To have tens of thousands of people voting for you instead of just seven?" said Stevens. "I came out feeling like I'm truly the people's Miss America."
Despite that, Stevens admits that she's still mad at herself over certain parts of her performance, including an interview that she said is the "worst I've ever done."
"I wasn't at the top of my game," said Stevens. "I felt like an Olympic athlete who's been training for it her whole life, then had a bad run the day of the big competition."
Still, she feels the results were probably for the best.
"All in all, I don't think it was supposed to happen for me," said Stevens. "I've done what I can and really made a statement, but Miss America has really taken a step in the wrong direction. I don't think it's an organization I want to represent."
Stevens is still plenty busy representing Utah, hurrying back and forth between meetings and speaking engagements, including several at Utah schools. Favorite topics generally include Stevens' experiences with the military, her platform of emergency preparedness and the Teen CERT program, a youth emergency response program that she is spearheading nationwide.
"This program is so empowering for our youth and needed in the educational system," said Stevens. "I truly believe in what this program can do in teaching youth life saving skills for emergency situations."
She jokes that she should finally get a break sometime around this summer, though her normal practice of working in a marathon or two will likely be impossible to achieve this year.
"I run my own schedule, which is probably a dumb thing, but I want to make the most of my year," said Stevens, who will hold the Miss Utah title until June. "When you get into an organization you want to improve it. I want to do what I can as Miss Utah."