Saturday night, Lauren Kuhn fulfilled a dream she’s had since she was 7 years old: She won the Miss Grays Harbor crown.
“I’m really excited, this is something I’ve always wanted,” Kuhn said Saturday night, minutes after she tearfully donned the crown five other young women were vying for.
She received her crown from 2012 Miss Grays Harbor Melissa Hornback of Montesano, who also performed several songs, dancing with the contestants and 30 Raindrop Princesses.
The honor comes with a $2,000 scholarship, and Kuhn will also take home at least $1,300 in additional funds for Miss Congeniality (shared with Victoria Baumgardner), Scholastic Acheivement, Physical Fitness, Interview and Four Points of the Crown awards.
Kuhn, 21, expects to earn her bachelor’s degree in biology in May from Gonzaga University, and was recently accepted into the highly competitive Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She hopes to become an orthodontist. Only 35 applicants from around the world are accepted each year.
Her younger sister, Aberdeen High senior Paige Kuhn, will join her at the Miss Washington competition as Miss Apple Valley.
“It’s really exciting actually, it means we can share things” like hairdryers, Lauren Kuhn said with a laugh.
Kuhn’s platform is “Rebuilding Together: Strengthening our Communities,” which focuses on helping low-income homeowners make needed improvements to their homes.
“Specifically in Grays Harbor we have a lot of low-income homeowners, and our unemployment is 12.4 percent, which is much higher than the state, so there are a lot of people struggling,” she explained in her on-stage interview.
For her talent, she performed “Valse Dramatico” on the piano.
During the show, contestants performed an opening number and then participated in a swimsuit competition, followed by an on-stage question-and-answer competition, a talent demonstration, and then evening wear competition.
Reigning Miss Washington Mandy Schendel performed and spoke about her experience at the Miss America pageant, where she earned a spot as a finalist.
The Miss Grays Harbor Scholarship Program is a preliminary to the Miss Washington and Miss America programs. The program provides young women with the opportunity to pursue their professional and educational goals through monetary grants for education. Scholarship funds are contributed by corporate and individual sponsors.
First runner-up this year was Meghan Anderson, 23, who currently attends Grays Harbor College and Quality Beauty College in Tumwater. Second runner-up was Stephanie Hornback, 19, another Grays Harbor College student. Blythe Beebe, 17, a Hoquiam High senior, Victoria Baumgardner, 18, also a Hoquiam senior, and Jessica Matthews, 21, a Grays Harbor College student, also competed for the crown.
More than $6,000 in scholarships in all were given out to the six contestants. The recently added Dash for Cash feature, where representatives of the contestants solicit cash donations from the audience before intermission, raised more money for each young woman.
Kuhn is the first Miss Grays Harbor Outstanding Teen winner to go on to win the Miss Grays Harbor crown in the teen program’s nine-year history. She’s the daughter of Tim and Dawn Kuhn.