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Miss Kentucky winner was a first time pageant contestant

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

When Miss Kentucky USA 2008 takes the Miss USA pageant stage in Las Vegas on April 11, it will mark just her second time competing in a pageant.

Alysha Harris, formerly of Campbellsburg and Carrollton, won the Miss Kentucky USA pageant in Somerset on Jan. 6. In just her first pageant, Harris brought home the crown.

It was Harris' sister who prompted the 20-year-old to take a shot at the crown. When her sister said she thought it would be cool to have Miss Kentucky for a sister, Harris was sold.

"I said, 'okay, okay, I'll do it,' " she said.

Harris said she wasn't nervous during the pageant, in part because she didn't expect anything out of it. Before she knew it, Harris was one of the final five contestants on stage. The pageant started with 43.

"(When) they cut them to five, I thought they were just being nice," she said. "I thought they'd think this girl doesn't know what she's doing. (I had) no training. It was just me. Maybe that was just part of my appeal."

Like other contestants, Harris had to raise at least $800 to take part in the pageant. Harris, who is majoring in communications disorders at UK, took a unique approach.

She utilized her family studies class at UK's Memorial Hall - a class with 600 students - to raise some of the money. She approached her professor about making a presentation to the class. If each person gave just one dollar, Harris would be close to her goal. At the last minute, though, she said she just couldnt do it.

"So he ended up talking for me, and we ended up raising about $400," she said.

For Harris, winning Miss Kentucky is an opportunity to set an example. "If she can do it, maybe I can do it, that's the main thing," Harris said.

"If you have something you think that you're able to achieve, go ahead and do it. That's all I can say - you never know until you try."

Harris said winning the pageant shows that you don't always have to have the most experience or the best outfit.

When she entered the pageant, Harris said, she hoped the judges were looking for something different, perhaps even someone who wasn't well versed in pageantry.

"I thought maybe that's the thing that will set me apart from everyone else," she said. "Maybe they'll see what I had going for me."

Though it's been several years since Harris lived in Henry County, relatives remain here, including an aunt, uncle and grandmother.

Guy and Lisa Prewitt, of Prewitts Funeral Home, are Harris' aunt and uncle.

"We just couldn't believe what an opportunity this was for her," Guy Prewitt said. "We're so pleased and happy for her."

Prewitt described his niece as an outstanding, outgoing young lady," who could do anything she wanted to do.

Harris' grandmother, Ann Harris of Eminence, said seeing her granddaughter win the crown was quite a shock. Ann Harris said after watching her granddaughter win Miss Kentucky, she was definitely going to Las Vegas for the big pageant.

Ultimately, Ann Harris said, her granddaughter was someone to be proud of.

"She would make a good role model for her sisters and brothers," she said.

E-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.