Being Herself

Megan Engle

Lori Mitchell was “born to be Miss Kentucky.”

But according to her she was not the “typical” contestant. She did not have big hair and lots of make-up, she was simply herself.

Being herself has gotten the Scottsville senior to the national stage.

On Dec. 1 of last year, Mitchell was crowned Miss Kentucky, allowing her to compete against 50 women in the nation to be crowned Miss USA.

“Lori was born to be Miss Kentucky,” said Elizabethtown senior and Chi Omega sister Kari Critcheloe.

Heading down the catwalk

Mitchell entered her first pageant when she was 14 and went on to enter the Kentucky State Fair pageant. After losing in her first attempt, she entered the same pageant two more times and eventually was crowned queen in 2000.

That night stood out as being one of her greatest memories and achievements. But it may now have to take a backseat to participating in Miss USA.

Mitchell has been preparing for this night since winning Miss Kentucky. The first step towards the title of Miss USA is the preliminary competition, which began yesterday in San Antonio, Texas.

The preliminary competition consists of the swimsuit and evening gown portion.

The top ten will be announced at 8 p.m. March 24 on NBC, where the interview process will be the deciding factor.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.

Since being crowned, Mitchell has been focusing on nothing else. She is sleeping, eating and breathing for this one night.

“I’ve had to put everything on hold to make sure everything’s perfect,” she explained. “I put my friends, family and life on hold. I just don’t want to look back on this with any regrets.”

No matter what the outcome, Mitchell said that being in this situation is an experience she will never forget.

“It’s all completely worth it. I’ll be meeting all of these girls and making memories of a lifetime,” she said.

To help her focus on her goal, Mitchell is taking only one class while working at the WKYU news station.

The life of a beauty queen

The night she was crowned Miss Kentucky, Mitchell met with the judges who critiqued and commented on her performance. She also met with a personal trainer who did a body assessment and put her on a diet of low-carbs and high protein.

“The hardest part of preparing for this competition is being disciplined. I still splurge once in awhile, but then I feel it in the gym the next day,” she said.

A typical day for Mitchell recently has involved exercising for two hours, dress fittings and meeting with reporters.

Amidst all the commotion and stress, Mitchell said it gets difficult not to lose sight of herself.

“It has been stressful and a headache at times, yes, but really and truly it has been so great,” she said.

She said one of the most difficult struggles has been listening to about a hundred different opinions that tend to pull her in different directions.

Mitchell said that one of the main factors of her success and drive is due to her friends, family and Chi Omega sorority.

Mitchell’s sister Holly, a Western alumna, said that she would love for Lori to make it to the top ten and even further.

“She needs to make sure and know that she will have people all over the state supporting her,” Holly Mitchell said. “All she needs to do is be herself, be confident and know that this is a wonderful opportunity. She will do great.”

But if Mitchell is not selected, she said she will simply go back to living in apartment number 20 and return to work, school and the life that she hasn’t had time for.

But for now it has all come down to this one night.

Reach Megan Engle at [email protected]

INFO BOX

WHAT: Miss USA pageant

WHEN: 8 p.m., March 24

WHERE: NBC

Those interested in voting for Scottsville senior Lori Mitchell, Miss Kentucky, for “Most Photogenic” can log on to http://www.NBC.com/MissUSA.