Pictured above is our very own K. Lee Graham, rising senior at Chapin High School, with Principal Akil Ross.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – A 17-year-old woman from Chapin is the new Miss Teen USA.
K. Lee Graham won the crown Saturday night in the Bahamas.
Graham plans to spend her yearlong reign promoting her Beauty Secrets campaign, emphasizing that being beautiful is about being happy with who you are and how you treat others instead of striving for an impossible model of perfection.
She has her own blog at http://www.livebeautifullyblog.com/ where she writes about her journey to the national pageant and her life. A month before the national pageant, she was volunteering for Vacation Bible School at her church.
On her blog, she sums up her platform on beauty this way: “Beauty is not based on the way you look. Beauty stems from your character, from the way you treat others, from your service, and from your faith.”
K. Lee is both artistic and academic. Theatre is her passion, throughout middle and high school she has been involved in local productions and studied drama at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities intensive summer programs. K. Lee is committed to her studies, taking on challenging courses which have earned her a Number 1 class rank.
She also has a passion for working with children, and volunteers on a weekly basis with her church’s Children’s Ministry in addition to volunteering with many other organizations such as the USO, the American Heart Association, Christ Central Ministries, LifeChangers, and the Arthritis Foundation throughout the past year. Being Miss South Carolina Teen USA has enabled K. Lee to promote her Live Beautifully campaign, encouraging girls across her state to find true beauty by embracing themselves, others, and their communities by speaking to schools, growing the Live Beautifully blog, and planning the first Live Beautifully Day.
Graham won her first title at age 10 and since has been crowned four more times. She started out as Miss Olanta Gator Festival, now known as the Olanta Fall Festival, in Florence before going on to win the titles of Miss Chapin High School, Miss Lexington Teen USA and Miss Lake Murray Teen USA.
1. She Changed Her Name Because of Her Big Sister: K. Lee is actually short for Katherine Lee. When she was born, her one-year-old sis had trouble pronouncing the brunette’s name, so she simply called her “K.” The cute nickname has stuck ever since!
2. She Has Her Own Blog That Empowers Young Women: K. Lee hopes to encourage other girls to find true beauty on the inside with her blog, Live Beautifully. “[My blog] has become an outlet for me to address and express some of my opinions about issues regarding body image, self-esteem and personal identity that young adults are challenged with every day,” she wrote.
3. She’s Got Beauty and Brains: Miss South Carolina takes her studies very seriously. The high school junior is at the top of her class and loves writing. She is currently working toward attending the University of South Carolina Honors College!
4. She Maintains a Healthy Lifestyle—Even On Her Birthday: K. Lee has been a vegetarian since 2011 and declares kale as her favorite food! She stays in shape with regular workouts consisting of Pilates, resistance training and cardio. Even on her birthday, she posted this Instagram pic of her nutritious meal. “I love cooking healthy, clean foods and working out! Love this Citrus Kale salad from @ToneItUp and my favorite protein pancakes, which were my substitute for actual birthday cake!” she shared.
5. She Loves to Perform: The Southern beauty queen has a passion for theater, dance, singing and acting. She studied drama at the South Carolina Governor’s School and has been involved in local productions since middle school.
6. She Gives Back to the Community: The 17-year-old volunteers every week with her church’s Children’s Ministry and has worked with other organizations like the USO, the American Heart Association and LifeChangers over the past year.