By Cassie Lynott
Lauren (Kelsey) Hall is a sophomore at Ohio University with considerable motivation. She is currently a broadcast major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism who finds time to be a member of Alpha Delta Pi social sorority, work with non-profit organizations and also serve as Miss Ohio USA 2004, after being crowned in November 2003. After a whirlwind of preparation for and competition in the Miss USA pageant in Los Angeles this spring, Hall is back in Athens and continuing her obligations as Miss Ohio USA.
"If it were not for my education and lessons learned at Ohio University, I would not have been able to handle all of the pressure that is involved in being Miss Ohio USA, not to mention competing against other talented women in the Miss USA pageant," says Hall. "I have had an opportunity to meet and communicate with people of various backgrounds while in Athens, Ohio, which has helped me in my journey."
Part of Hall's work at Miss Ohio USA includes talking to students and other groups about her experiences and knowledge. However, with all of Hall's experience in front of the camera, large groups and judges, it may seem surprising that her latest speech to a group of middle school students made her a little nervous.
"I just remember how I was at that age," Hall says of the students' quick attention spans.
Fortunately for Hall, the seventh and eighth grade boys were glued to their seats. "I was surprised that it was the boys who were asking most of the questions," she says. But, perhaps not too surprising, as the adolescent boys were experiencing a dream come true?the chance to talk to a real-life pageant winner.
Her advice to the school was simple: Be yourself, don't change for anyone and don't grow up before you have to. It is advice that Hall uses herself each day to keep her grounded with such a busy schedule. "It took me 20 years to find out who I am," she told the students.
Once Hall was crowned Miss Ohio USA, she noticed that people began to treat her differently. Before going to the Miss USA pageant, which aired on NBC in April, residents in her hometown of Wellston, Ohio, organized a send-off at the local elementary school. Although she knew most of the students, they did not know what to think of Hall once she walked up on stage with her sash and crown. "These are kids who have known me all of their lives," she says.
Even at Ohio University, people are also feeling the effects Hall's new-found local celebrity. "Once, I was at a house party and someone actually started cleaning up around me," Hall says. "I'd been to the house before, but being Miss Ohio USA made everything different.
"With all of the changes that the Miss Ohio USA title has brought, I consider myself blessed to have met so many wonderful people throughout the journey. It's quite an experience and I've been very fortunate."
One of the most important lessons that Hall learned as Miss Ohio and as a college student is that of time management.
"Balancing my school work has been really tough and something I had to work on," she says. "Time management was imperative, and I had to really push myself last quarter to get my work in on time. Fortunately, the professors understood my unique position and were really supportive of my ambitions as Miss Ohio USA."
Out of all the changes that emerged during the past year, Hall says she values her work with the American Cancer Society the most. Having witnessed her grandmother, great aunt and second grade teacher's battles with cancer, Hall said she feels honored to be a part of such a great organization.
Hall currently represents the American Cancer Society at Ohio University and Appalachia Reads, part of the Verizon Literacy Network, and is continuing with her speeches. She hopes to one day use her experience as a public figure in her own career in broadcast journalism.
Cassie Lynott is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.