One local teen is ready for her shot at capturing the crown.
Winter Park resident Lou Schieffelin, 17, will represent the Sunshine State at the Miss Teen USA pageant this week in Shreveport and Bossier City in Louisiana, looking to take the title and use it as platform to bring about change.
The competition’s preliminary round began on Thursday, May 17 after press time and concludes today with the finals.
Girls from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., will compete in judged interviews, a fitness competition, an evening gown competition and a final on-stage question.
It’s a dream-come-true for Schieffelin to be in the running.
“Florida is actually a state that has never placed in the top 15 at nationals,” she said. “Going into a competition like Miss Teen USA, being 17 years old, and having it been the first time I ever competed at a Teen USA pageant — I put pressure on myself to do well but to also just enjoy the experience. You know you’re going to compete against the cream of the crop — the best girls from each state, the girls who really serve their community and are making a difference. It’s just an honor to be within that group of 51 girls.”
Before making it to the Miss Teen USA pageant, Schieffelin was crowned Miss Florida Teen USA in December. She was chosen from a field of 120 competitors.
“It was my first time ever competing at a pageant for Teen USA,” she said. “It’s such a huge pageant, and it’s quite daunting, so you want to be prepared before you arrive at a pageant like that.”
Schieffelin currently goes to school at The First Academy and has lived in Winter Park for the past two years. She’s even bought much of her clothing and gowns from the shops along Park Avenue.
The pageant contestant certainly keeps herself busy. She’s working in Tallahassee to get House Bill 33 passed to ban texting and driving in Florida. She originally is from the New York/Connecticut area, where it’s already illegal.
“Now that I’m a driver myself on I-4 — the most dangerous highway in America — and I see people texting with little kids next to them, I was like, ‘I need to make a change,’” she said. “‘This is not right.’”
Schieffelin also recently published a children’s book, has done more than 700 hours of community service, works with nonprofits such as Best Buddies and the Wounded Warrior Project, plays varsity volleyball, and has a 5.09 GPA.
“I dip my toe in everything — I don’t like to just stay in one category,” she said. “I love being all over the place and just being able to speak with such a variety of different people.”
Regarding winning the Miss Teen USA crown, Schieffelin said it would give her a louder voice with which to create change.
“For me the title is more of a platform than just a pretty crown and sash,” she said. “People look at pageants and they only see the exterior and the makeup and the big hair, but for me I came into pageants not really knowing the stereotypes and the unwritten rules that everyone followed. I just came in wanting to make change, and I know that the crown and the title is such a microphone for passions that you have.”