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Miss Louisiana: Queen of the South

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lacey sanchez

Newly crowned Miss Louisiana Lacey Sanchez waves to the audience as
confetti flies in celebration. License to Shoot Photography / Michelle Roberts

The road to Miss Louisiana began at Southeastern for Lacey Sanchez, the newly crowned 2014 Miss Louisiana. Sanchez entered the Miss Southeastern pageant in 2010 and did not look back. After being named Miss Southeastern 2010, her pageant career continued with numerous titles and three years of participation in the state competition. Although she was faced with challenges along the way, she proved her ability to conquer, earning a title she once dreamed of in her final chance at the Miss Louisiana crown. Sanchez sat down with The Lion’s Roar to reflect on her pageant career, future aspirations and journey to Miss America. 


The Lion’s Roar: Describe your reign as Miss Southeastern 2010. 

Lacey Sanchez: Miss Southeastern was my first pageant. It was actually my [Phi Mu] sorority  sisters on campus that encouraged me to do it, but I wasn’t really sold on the idea. Actually, what pushed me into making the final decision was that at the time my mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She did pageants when she was younger so I decided that that was going to be our project to lighten the mood of going through radiation therapy. We fell in love with it and had so much fun. Being a university titleholder is very special, and I think any university titleholder in the state will tell you that. Being able to represent your school is just on a different level because you’re a spokesperson for the entire university. It’s not only a scholarship opportunity, but I had the privilege to meet Dr. Crain and sit in on the FeLion’s luncheons. I got to do things as Miss Southeastern that I never would have got to do as a typical student, but I was proud to represent my university, and I loved every second of that.  

lacey as miss slu

Sanchez was named Miss Southeastern
2010 during her first shot at a crown. 

The Lion's Roar / File Photo 

TLR: How did you balance life as a student, athlete and Miss Southeastern? 

LS: I think it’s one of those years that you look back on and say, ‘How did I do all of that?,’ but I have an incredible support system here at home. My family is behind me 100 percent. So it’s a family affair for us; I could not have done all of that without my family’s help. Simple things as cooking dinner for me at night just made a huge difference. 


TLR: How many pageants have you competed in and titles have you earned? 

LS: I competed in the Miss Louisiana Pageant three times, but I actually had four titles. It’s made a difference in me. I know, professionally, I’m so much more confident speaking to people and in front of people because that’s what you do as a titleholder. I think Miss Southeastern really helped me develop that skill. 


TLR: What are the most rewarding elements of being a titleholder? 

LS: The most rewarding parts of being a titleholder are two things. I have a huge passion for working with children, and being a titleholder, you have to have a personal platform. My platform is “Designed to Move,” and it allows me to go into schools and talk to kids about why it’s important to be physically active. As an athlete, I have that connection to physical activity. The other thing I would say is Miss America’s National Philanthropy is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and we get to go into Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and meet kids. To be honest, I am prideful enough to think that I’m going to go in there and make the difference in these kids lives, and without fail every single time I am so humbled because they are the ones that teach me something; it’s amazing. I would say those two things are definitely my favorite part of being titleholder, and that’s something that every single titleholder, not just Miss Louisiana, every Miss America titleholder experiences: a platform and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. 


TLR: At what point did you realize that you wanted to be Miss Louisiana and that you were going to give it everything you had and keep going back until you earned the title? 

LS: I don’t really think I realized I wanted to be Miss Louisiana until after my first year at [the] Miss Louisiana [Pageant], but I think in a way I knew I did because when I was signing up for Miss Southeastern, Blaire Abene was working in the Campus Activities Board. She was the first person I talked to when I was signing up for Miss Southeastern. The minute she opened her mouth she just had this presence and this confidence, and it was just so admirable I wanted to be like that, and I knew that. That was very motivating for me to meet a Miss Louisiana. She exuded confidence, and she was so articulate and educated; and I went ‘oh I want to be like that,’ and I think in a way it just took off. 


lacey in swimsuit

Sanchez won the preliminary swimsuit competition
at Miss Louisiana, which helped put her over the
competition. License to Shoot Photography/
Michelle Roberts

TLR: Was the Lifestyle and Fitness competition easier for you as a former athlete? 

LS: I think the only way it made it easier is that my athletic background has given me incredible discipline and a great work ethic. This year was very different for me because my eligibility was up for track last May, May of 2013, and so I was done with track. You realize when you’re not doing it anymore that it’s a luxury to have three hours of your day completely blocked off just to go work out. So what that meant for me was getting up before 5 o’clock in the morning and getting to the gym and getting it in and sometimes even going back after work. It was a definite challenge for me because nobody wants to wake up before the sun rises, but I knew that this is what I wanted. Going back to work ethic I just did it, and it obviously paid off because I was able to win the preliminary swimsuit award, which is really exciting.


TLR: What is your favorite phase of competition? 

LS: My favorite part of the competition is actually the interview because going back to what I said with Miss Southeastern about developing that public speaking and that communication skill, I absolutely love interacting with people. In the interview, you get to do that with the judges, so that’s my favorite phase of competition. We really had a great group of contestants this year, and we all know when we show up there that only one girl is going to go home with the crown. We know that when we’re getting ourselves into it so we just get up there and we try to make the best of it, and we have so much fun. In fact, I describe it as a weeklong slumber party because we stay up late in the dorms laughing and cutting up, and we just had a blast. So, I really enjoyed the contestants this year. We still keep in touch, and I still hear from them. 


TLR: What made this year special for you before you were crowned Miss Louisiana? 

LS: I think what made it special this year is that it was my last year being able to compete for Miss Louisiana because there is an age limit, and I reached that age limit. I’m the old lady at the pageant. Knowing that, I really just said to myself ‘you’re never going to do it again, and you really need to enjoy it.’ And that’s what I did; I went in there and enjoyed every second of it. Regardless of whether I was going to win, I was determined to have fun and end this entire journey on a high note because that’s what it’s about. Really, it’s about growing as a person.  I let myself have fun, and I really think that’s what made the difference for me. 


TLR: What was your biggest improvement from last year when you were named 1st Runner Up?

LS: I knew I had prepared as much as I could, and I just let that be and went and had fun. I really think that was the biggest change for me. Of course, I worked endless hours in the gym working out for swimsuit, and I actually really improved my talent a lot this year. That’s something else I’m really proud of, but I really think the biggest difference was just having fun and enjoying it. 


TLR: How did it feel to compete with five other talented students representing Southeastern?

LS: I was so proud of our Southeastern girls, and in fact if you go back and look at the Top Ten, three Miss Southeastern’s were in the Top Ten. I think that says something great about Southeastern as a university. I was so glad to be able to be there with them, and we really represented south Louisiana well. 


TLR: What advice would you give girls who are interested in stepping into pageantry or the Miss Louisiana Organization for the first time? 

LS: I would tell them to go for it. I know that this is going to sound really cliché, but you really cannot lose by entering a Miss Louisiana prelim[inary] because no matter what, you learn so much about yourself that you’re going to develop so many skills. It develops you so much as a person that even if you don’t walk away with a preliminary crown or the Miss Louisiana Crown you’re not going to lose at all. 

lacey singing

Competing in the state pageant three times, a new journey began on  June 28 as
she was named Miss Louisiana in her final year of eligibility. Although she
received many awards including the lifestyle and fitness swimsuit award,
she was particularly proud of her vocal performance of “God Help the Outcast”
in the talent phase of competition. License to Shoot Photography / Michelle Roberts 


TLR: What do you want people to know about Lacey Sanchez? 

LS: I love a challenge; I love trying new things, and I also like to meet new people. That’s really what led me to the Miss Louisiana Organization; it was out of my box and out of my comfort zone, and it was a new challenge. I am excited for this year because I think it’s going to present even more challenges, but those challenges present opportunity. I’m so excited about that and my year. I’m excited not only to represent Louisiana, but to represent my two universities, which are like my home, LSU and Southeastern. 


TLR: How did you end up at Louisiana State University? 

LS: I had some medical problems, and I had two stomach surgeries. I was sick and broken down, and honestly it had nothing to do with Southeastern. It was a life change for me. I wasn’t feeling well; medically I wasn’t doing well so I just came home to Baton Rouge is what the bottom line was. I love Southeastern. Southeastern will always hold a special place in my heart, and I also love LSU just as much. I’m fortunate that I was able to go to two great schools. That’s just where my life took me. 

TLR: What are your career aspirations? 

LS: I’m really interested in news broadcasting. I was also an intern at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. I was a brand-marketing intern, and I really enjoyed that. I’m also interested in sports marketing as well, but right now I’m working on my master’s in mass communication; that’s my first priority.

TLR: What have you learned about yourself during your pageant career? 

LS: I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had not entered my first pageant, Miss Southeastern, I would not be the same person that I am today. Not to get all emotional, but it’s true. It turned me into an articulate, feminine person. I was an athlete; I didn’t really care about how I looked or how I appeared to people. It polished me, and it helped me grow as a person and really have confidence in myself and believe in myself enough to not be afraid to do things that are uncomfortable like entering pageants. 


TLR: Do you feel prepared for Miss America? 

LS: When you’re preparing for the Miss Louisiana Pageant, you’re not only preparing for Miss Louisiana, but you’re preparing for Miss America because you have to be ready to go. I have a great board working with me. I have great family support; my friends are here supporting me. I’m just going to keep working hard, keep doing what I’m doing. Miss Louisiana’s never won Miss America; hopefully we can bring it home this year. 


TLR: What are you most excited about at the Miss America Pageant? 

LS: I cannot wait for the ‘show me your shoe’ parade. You sit in a chair for this parade, and each contestant decorates a shoe that represents their state. They ride down the boardwalk in Atlantic City and they show the prospects their shoe, just like the name of the parade. The shoe is actually your costume. You’ll probably see some crazy shoes and some crazy outfits during the parade, but that’s what I’m most excited about. I went to it last year, and it was a blast.  

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