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Local competes in state pageant

Brookhaven’s sweetheart Laura Lee Lewis will be returning to the Miss Mississippi pageant as she strives for the 2015 crown.

Lewis, who is using her position to promote her “Treat Me Fairly” campaign, has evolved her mentoring program to include those who face intolerance on a daily basis.

“My platform aims to arm victims with the tools to overcome and to empower people to take a stand against injustices around us,” she said. “No matter your difference or circumstance – everyone deserves to be treated fairly.”0623Riverland-MM15-SF-Laura-Lee-Lewis

For Lewis, the platform speaks very closely to her heart because of her own life experiences.

“Growing up, I faced a number of social and personal challenges which left me questioning my self worth,” she said. “Facing this adversity head-on and cultivating opportunities to uncover the value within me is something I take great pride in. These experiences led me to my personal platform, ‘Treat Me Fairly,’ which allows me to help others during their difficult times.”

Lewis said an influential moment in her life was during her senior year when she was approached by the person who had bullied her since fifth grade.

“He apologized, and said, ‘I wish I could be like you. Will you help me to be a better person?’ In that moment I was validated in my choice to focus on the content of my character rather than my appearance. It also taught me a valuable lesson that there is always good in people – even if they make bad choices.”

And if Lewis wins Miss Mississippi she hopes to use her influence to encourage others who are struggling with their own self-worth.

Most mentors have mentors themselves, and Lewis cites her elementary school principal, Pamela Fearn, as her own.

“Mrs. Fearn pushed me to believe in myself and pursue my dreams – something she continues to do to this day,” she said. “Her perspective changed my life, and I am the person I am today because of her involvement.”

Lewis’s motivation in Miss Mississippi isn’t the pretty dresses or attention, but the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

“I have a voice, and it is powerful,” she said.

Her talent will be singing “Rolling in the Deep.”

In 2013, Lewis was named second alternate as Miss West Central in the Miss Mississippi pageant. In 2014, she was named first alternate as Miss Mississippi State University. This year, she is competing under the Miss Riverland title.

Pre-pageant festivities have already begun in Vicksburg with the competition beginning Wednesday night. The pageant will run throughout the rest of the week with Saturday’s portion being televised.

Lewis is a 2011 graduate of Brookhaven High School where she was a special honor graduate. She currently attends Mississippi State University. After receiving her degree in elementary education, she plans to pursue a Master of Education in secondary education. Ultimately her goal is to complete her doctoral degree in educational administration.

Lewis is the daughter of Mark and Lorin Lewis.