Thursday, September 23, 2004

Beauty queen's visit inspires



By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

[photo]
Miss USA 2000, Lynette Cole (right) talks with Sheryce Dozier after giving a presentation to some students Wednesday at Middletown High School. Sheryce is a junior.
The Enquirer/GLENN HARTONG
MIDDLETOWN - Lynette Cole tells young people to dream big, work hard and don't give up.

In a visit Wednesday to Middletown High School, the 2000 Miss USA from Tennessee told about 80 students of her early struggles - teased for being tall, having frizzy hair, for her biracial heritage and inability to do certain math problems.

"I was made fun of my whole life - then I began to blossom," said Cole, 26. The blossoming began when she focused on what she was good at - running and basketball.

Everything she has gotten in life, Cole said, was through hard work.

Her message rang true to Tiffany Campbell, a 17-year-old junior who plans to frame Cole's autograph and put it in her room.

"She really influenced me," Campbell said. "Everything she said I took to heart."

Senior Bridget Kinney, 17, said she was inspired by Cole's determination to succeed. A volunteer at the YMCA and the annual Middfest, Kinney said she came away from Cole's talk with a renewed vow to focus more on her chosen field of dentistry.

Adopted at 10 months old, Cole spent most of her life in Tennessee. Over a span of 15 years, her adoptive parents opened their home to a total of 127 foster children.

Everyone had to sit together for dinner at 6 p.m. to pray and then talk about their day.

"The neat thing was that every single kid sitting there saw themselves in her," said Middletown High Principal Dennis Newell. "It's a powerful message, seeing someone so accomplished standing up there telling you of their struggles."

E-mail suek@infionline.net




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