Lacey Sanchez’s reign as Miss Louisiana 2014 comes to an end June 27 when her replacement will be crowned in Monroe. It’s been a long year for the Baton Rouge resident and former LSU and Southeastern Louisiana University pole-vaulter. The Advocate asked her to reflect on her year.

Your platform as Miss Louisiana was promoting physical activity in children. How did you promote that?

I did a really big school campaign throughout the state over the course of the year focusing on saying no to drugs and alcohol. That’s something that Miss Louisiana does every single year. But the way I incorporated my platform is that I used a lot of sports activities to get the message through to say no to drugs and alcohol. I would talk about my athletic background. I would even bring my broken poles from pole-vaulting to schools. The big thing we said was “you can’t unbreak the pole.” Once you make a decision, you can’t undo the decision that you make.

What were your favorite moments as Miss Louisiana?

Of course, I loved competing at the Miss America Pageant, and I think a special moment for me there was winning the non-finalist interview award because I am studying mass communications, working on my master’s in it, so to receive an award for that skill was very validating for me. Another thing that really stuck out in my mind is I got to run in a half-marathon for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. … It was all to raise money for kids, and it was very special because a lot of the girls from Miss America came out and supported me and cheered me on while I was doing that.

What was your funniest moment?

Kids are brutally honest. They’re not afraid to ask any question. I usually get, “Is your crown made of real diamonds?” I say, of course, “Yes, it is.” That is later followed up with, “Do you live in a castle?” “Of course, I live in a castle,” and I go on to tell them, “My hair is very long because I’m growing it out to be like Rapunzel.”

Did you visit parts of the state you’d never seen before?

Yes. I went to Columbia, Louisiana, for the Art Folk Festival. I also went way down south to Jeanerette for a fitness speech. I went to places I’d never experienced before, and I experienced culture that I didn’t realize, even as a lifelong native of Louisiana. I learned new things. I loved going to Natchitoches and experiencing the history of Natchitoches, seeing different plantations. It’s just been a wonderful experience. … It’s amazing how many different types of people are in our state, and especially the dialects, and the names of the schools and the different towns. They definitely taught me how to pronounce them correctly.

For instance?

I was emceeing the Louisiana Watermelon Festival and Pageant. It’s a preliminary for the Miss Louisiana Pageant, and there is a place called Choudrant, and it’s right outside of Ruston. I pronounced it CHOW-drant, and people from the audience were literally screaming, “It’s SHOO-drant!” Thank you. I’m definitely from south Louisiana.

What will you miss most about being Miss Louisiana?

The kids, for sure. … It’s amazing that you can put a crown on top of your head and kids will listen to anything you say. It’s wonderful. Parents should try it.

I really will miss the kids because they have taught me so much, especially working with Children’s Miracle Network. It amazes me how the young patients that may have a chronic illness and they’re in and out of the hospital all the time, they have a bittersweet wisdom because they’re so young, but they’re always teaching you lessons. They’ve probably been through something pretty hard to know things like that at such a young age. I’m thankful for those moments, and it puts my life into perspective, that the challenges I’m facing probably really aren’t that bad compared to what they’re having to deal with. It makes me thankful.

What will you miss least?

Probably all of the driving. I drive an awful lot. I’ve probably put 20,000 or 30,000 miles on my car this year, and driving gets a little boring.

What now?

In August, I am going back to school. I have a year left on my master’s in mass communication, and I’m going to start a dual program where I’m going to work on my master’s but start law school as well. I have a full plate ahead of me.