Student to compete in Miss USA pageant

Clare Lowther

Lori Mitchell might be living proof that dreams really can come true.

The Scottsville senior joined an elite group on Sunday when she became the third Western student in the last six years to be crowned Miss Kentucky.

She beat 39 other contestants between the ages of 18 and 27 for the title. In February, she will represent Kentucky at the Miss USA pageant in Gary, Ind.

Appearance in formal wear and an opening number were several of the things contestants were judged on. Unlike the Miss America Pageant, there is no talent competition in Miss USA.

Judges narrowed the contestant pool to 10 and then five in the final rounds. In those rounds, contestants had to answer questions on-the-spot.

Pageant director Betty Clark was impressed by Mitchell’s ability to answer the questions and think on her feet.

“She’s a smart girl, very intellectual,” Clark said. “I only spent 15 minutes talking to her personally, but even in that time I could tell how smart she was.”

Mitchell, a member of Chi Omega sorority, received her crown before a group of friends and family who had come to support her.

“I had a following of 30 people and about 12 to 14 of those were sorority sisters … who had come to support me,” Mitchell said. “Everybody was so excited. My parents were there, and I think my mom was just in awe when I won.”

To be selected to compete in Miss Kentucky, Mitchell had to send a photograph of herself to the Miss Kentucky State Headquarters, undergo a preliminary interview, and secure a sponsor to cover her entry fees.

“Each girl is responsible for getting her own sponsor fee,” Clark said. “We are one of the lower states in terms of fees.”

Mitchell’s parents were able to sponsor her this year.

Mitchell had been preparing to compete since summer when she learned she had been selected.

“I had to prepare myself mentally and physically,” she said. “I went to the gym, went on a strict diet and strict exercise routine. For the interview part, you just have to be mentally prepared. … I feel like I have been preparing for this since I was 14.”

Mitchell participated in her first pageant at 14. In 2000, she was crowned Miss Kentucky State Fair, but she has been less active in pageants in the past two years.

“I’ve been concentrating more on school and studying,” she said.

Mitchell credits her success to luck and the support of her friends and family.

“My parents are so supportive,” she said. “My mom was not at all the typical pageant mother. She wasn’t pushy, so I never felt like I had to compete.”

As Miss Kentucky, Mitchell’s duties will include making personal appearances, helping with charitable causes and preparing for the Miss USA competition with the help of Clark and other representatives from the Miss Kentucky pageant.

“We’ll do a lot to help her prepare,” Clark said. “She just needs to be herself, to radiate inner beauty, be extra smart and be extra sharp … I know she’ll do a good job.”

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