While growing up in neighboring Tullahoma, Chandler Lawson never thought she would actually wear the crown of Miss Tennessee. Even though, the little tomboy dreamed the same dream of many young girls, hers actually came true.
Lawson, 22, was crowned Miss Tennessee at the conclusion of a rigorous week of rehearsals, interviews and competitions at the pageant on June 23 in Jackson. Since this was her third attempt for the title, and she received first runner-up honors last year, she knew what to expect.
“It was emotionally overwhelming (being crowned Miss Tennessee), and it still feels like an out-of-body experience,” said Lawson. “It hasn’t actually sunk in that I will be in the Miss America Pageant.”
She will compete for the Miss America title in January in Las Vegas. The occasion will be especially special for her, as she will celebrate her 23rd birthday on Jan. 12.
“It’s going to be a very special time for me and my family, a time to observe my birthday with family at the Miss America Pageant,” said Lawson.
She is taking advantage of the opportunity her title gives her to promote her platform, “Feed Hope: Fight Child Hunger.” In 2007 she started a project in her community, 5 Loaves 4 Kids, which provides extra food for children who need it.
“I have just expanded my original program, we’re still feeding children, but now we are doing it on a national level,” said Lawson. “We plan to include corporate sponsors to help the process.”
At the Miss Tennessee competition, Lawson sang for her talent, something she has enjoyed doing since she was a child.
“I love to perform, having started at an early age, performing in church plays and singing in high school,” remembers Lawson.
She will be singing in the Miss America talent competition, but has not chosen her song. In Jackson she performed Adele’s song “Turning Tables,” earning a win in Friday’s talent competition.
“We are working on a talent song for Miss America, but I want it to be something I will be proud to sing,” said Lawson.
Her proud parents, Dan and Karen Lawson, are both educators in Tullahoma. She is a sixth-grade teacher, and he is director of schools.
“Because of my parents, education is very important to me and I love to read and learn,” said Lawson. “After my year of Miss Tennessee is over, I hope to attend law school.”
In fact, she has graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and has been accepted to study law at UT Knoxville.
Of course, this all depends on what happens in Las Vegas in January.