Senior communication major Gracie Lyons was recently crowned Miss Central Indiana 2015. Lyons had previously won the title in 2013.
“It [being Miss Central Indiana] means being authentic, relatable and holding a personality that’s truly captivating,” Lyons said. “My mentors have instilled a strong voice within me, and I’m thrilled to encourage others to find that strong voice within themselves.”
During her past five years of school, Lyons has won a title each year. She has won Miss Kankakee Valley 2011, Miss Heart of Indiana 2012, Miss Central Indiana 2013, Miss Elkhart 2014 and now Miss Central Indiana 2015.
Lyons first started participating in Miss America local pageants when she was 17-years-old. She said she became involved with pageants because her mentors encouraged her to get involved.
“I already had a talent and a platform, Mentoring Matters,” she said. So the Miss America Organization was a perfect fit with what I was already doing in my life.”
Lyons has benefitted from the pageants by winning scholarships. She said she got involved with pageants because they helped pay for her five years of schooling at the University of Indianapolis, and she will graduate debt free.
Now that Lyons has won Miss Central Indiana, she will go on to compete for the Miss Indiana title this coming summer.
“It [participating in pageants] has helped me gain interview skills, the ability to be a strong public speaker and networking opportunities,” Lyons said. “Representing Central Indiana at Miss Indiana has also given me the medium I need to reach the number of people I need to with my platform, Mentoring Matters.”
Mentoring Matters is a nonprofit organization that Lyons started two years ago as a way for her to give back to her personal mentors. Lyons said Mentoring Matters is a one-on-one mentoring organization that grants scholarships for academics, arts and athletics.
“It’s our mission to inspire, motivate and empower those who truly need it most, while at the same time celebrating mentoring,” Lyons said. “We hold free community events throughout Indiana and want others to embrace the celebration of family, community and mentoring.”
To prepare for the Miss Indiana pageant this summer, Lyons will work with different trainers and coaches. The categories in which Lyons will be judged include interview, talent, swimsuit, on-stage question and evening gown. Lyons said her favorite part of pageants is the people.
“My directors, Mark and Debbie Wiley, are so gracious and fun-loving,” Lyons said. “They continually push me to be the best that I can and to reach that next level of greatness.”
Lyons is looking forward to what comes next as Miss Central Indiana.
“It [being Miss Central Indiana] is truly an honor and so exciting,” she said. “I love being able to share my personal story and mission with other people, and I’m glad I’m able to do that as Miss Central Indiana.”
Lyons said she is excited to make appearances and to talk with the community about her platform, which is personal to her.
“As Miss Central Indiana, I take this role [mentoring] on just as my mentors have done for me,” Lyons said. “It’s not all about the sash and crown.”