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Miss Teen USA Talks Confidence, Body Positivity, Female Empowerment & More!

Meet fifteen-year-old Katherine Haik: She’s a student athlete, a dancer and a new member of student council—oh, and she was recently crowned Miss Teen USA 2015. We talked to this inspiring young woman about her past challenges, current goals and future as Miss Teen USA!

Name: Katherine Haik

Hometown: Franklinton, Louisiana

Age: 15

Did you know? Katherine is the youngest woman to ever be crowned Miss Teen USA.

Her Campus: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Katherine Haik: My name is Katherine. I’m 15 years old and I’m from Franklinton, Louisiana. I’m a sophomore in high school and I’m very involved at my high school with the dance team and the softball team. I recently just made student council, which is pretty exciting. I love to dance, be involved in sports and I love being well rounded. I love working with special needs children, and that’s what I’m really hoping to do a lot of this year. I’m just super excited for this amazing year ahead of me!

HC: You work with different organizations to support children who have special needs. How did you get involved with these organizations?

KH: Even before I was a titleholder, I was really interested and passionate about working with special needs children. Last year I worked with the Special Olympics and some other organizations that do the same types of things. I’m super excited about working with Best Buddies this year.

HC: What is your favorite part of spending time with the kids?

KH: I love working with them, because—especially in the Special Olympics—they’re able to show other people what they’re capable of. They are capable of doing anything they set their minds to and I just feel like we should show them the love and support that they deserve.

HC: What do you hope to accomplish in the next year as Miss Teen USA?

KH: Really just to be the best I can be and represent [the Miss Universe Organization] the best I can. [I hope] to be a positive role model to anyone out there by doing as much as I can.

HC: What are you most excited for in the upcoming months?

KH: This week is media tour week, so I’m getting used to being in New York and staying in the apartment. I have a Yankees game that I’m attending tonight with Miss Universe and Miss USA, so that’s going to be our first official experience together which is going to be lots of fun. Then I have my first official Miss Teen USA photo shoot with Fadil [Berisha]. I can’t wait for that as well. Fashion Week is coming up very soon, so I’ll be back in New York. That’s going to be another exciting event that I’m really looking forward to.

HC: Will you be walking in NYFW, or just attending?

KH: It might be a little bit of both, we really don’t know yet. I hope to be walking in some! I have some modeling experience under my belt, so I’m up for anything!

HC: The Miss Teen USA tagline is “Confidently Beautiful.” What makes you feel beautiful?

KH: Just being myself and showing others what I am and what I have to offer. It’s all about staying true to who you are and being beautiful on the inside [because] that makes you shine even more beautifully on the outside.

HC: As a model and an athlete, what are your thoughts on body positivity? How can girls remain confident about their bodies with so much outside pressure?

KH: I really believe in a healthy lifestyle. I don’t believe in trying to look a certain way for a certain time or event. It’s all about being healthy for the rest of your life. It’s a really important thing in my life. Being an athlete and a dancer, [I know from experience that] it’s really hard to perform your best when you’re not living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve learned that living a healthy lifestyle makes me perform so much better in all that I do.

HC: Do you have any personal advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

KH: Drinking a lot of water helps a lot. Watching what you eat and put in your body and staying involved in different sports and activities—just staying healthy overall.

HC: How has being a part of the Miss Teen USA competition inspired you to make a difference in the lives of girls like you?

KH: Miss Teen USA has a really big job of being a positive role model, and after getting to meet all of the girls at the Miss Teen USA Pageant [I see that] we all have so much to offer. We are very well rounded women who are capable of doing so many things in this world, changing other people’s lives and being positive [people].

HC: You’ve spent time with many inspiring women—how has this experience affected your views on female empowerment?

KH: Throughout this pageant, I met so many girls and [formed] friendships that are going to last a lifetime. We already have a group text, and we text in it every day. It’s so funny—after the pageant, people were sending pictures of what they were eating like, “Oh my gosh I just got ice cream.” We’re definitely all about building each other up and staying connected after this awesome opportunity.

HC: If you could share one piece of advice with young women everywhere, what would it be?

KH: Throughout everything that you go through in your life, there are going to be challenges. You just need to stay positive and have the mindset of, “I can do this, I can get through it” and stay true to who you are. That’s the biggest thing that has helped me throughout everything I’ve done and [helped me] get to the place where I am today. People are going to love you for who you are and opportunities are going to come when you’re yourself and [you] show everyone what you have to offer.

HC: Have you encountered any big challenges along your journey? If so, what did you learn from it?

KH: At the beginning of my reign, before I won Miss Teen USA, I was Miss Louisiana Teen USA. I was the youngest contestant, and I won. I was the youngest Miss Louisiana Teen USA to be crowned. So, there was a lot of pressure with being the youngest. Of course I had some challenges [with] some of the things that I had to do, like public speaking. I had some problems at first, but now I’m used to it. It’s all about getting the experience. Sometimes you’re not going to be the best you can be at first, but you just need to practice and build yourself up. Sometimes you fail and you have some hard times, but once you get through them you can take on the world.

HC: You’re still in high school, and you have so much ahead of you! As of right now, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

KH: I see myself in college. I plan to go to college, and I’m really interested in the medical field. I’m not sure what I want to do yet, I’m thinking about sports medicine and possibly a nurse anesthetist, so probably medical school, and doing the best that I can. [Also] getting good grades, because education means a lot to me.

HC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

KH: I looked at the Her Campus book, and it’s amazing. It really helps cover every aspect of college. College can be very scary, but the book covers anything and everything that you need to know! It’s really going to help me prepare for college.

For more information, photos and to follow Katherine on her journey, check out the Miss Teen USA website.

Photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization.

Jamie is a senior Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She is the Her Campus Life Editor, a National Contributing Writer, and Campus Correspondent of the Emerson Her Campus chapter. Jamie plans to pursue a career in the magazine industry. See more of her work at: www.jamiemkravitz.com