The winner of Miss Idaho USA 2017, Cassie Lewis, was crowned Saturday in Boise, Idaho, in only her second time competing in the pageant world.
Lewis, the daughter of retired Capt. Tammy Lewis and veteran Rob Lewis, grew up in Washington state as her parents served with the 446th Airlift Wing.
Lewis’ current platform is centered on helping young people to build confidence, discover who they are and who they want to be, she said. Growing up in a military family, she had strong role models in her parents, who provided a structured environment for Lewis and her older sister.
“(My parents) are both extremely hardworking people, which I think is the case with anyone who is serving in the military,” Lewis said. “It’s not easy work, and you’re not going to be able to slack off and get away with it. You know, you have other people’s lives in your hands. They both instilled that in my sister and me, that work ethic and setting goals for yourself and integrity and all those values that are so important. They’ve run a very tight household, and I think that’s why my sister and I are so successful.”
Her parents’ way of living and their love of travel for military duty impacted Lewis’ personal growth as she left the nest to earn her degree in fashion merchandizing and design from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., in 2013.
“They’ve been a big inspiration not only to me and my sister, but also to other members of our family who are now doing that — either serving (in the military) or going to college,” she said. “I think they definitely started a new trend in our family about working hard and achieving that American dream any way you can do that.”
Lewis said despite her parents being outdoorsy and not being “typical pageant parents,” they support her no matter what she does.
“Being able to do those things that are a little bit scary or a little bit hard,” she said. “(My parents have) never discouraged us from trying those things.”
Delving into the world of pageantry was important to Lewis because she said she wanted the opportunity to reach more young people through the Miss Idaho USA outlet.
“The Miss Universe organization is a huge organization — nationwide and worldwide,” Lewis said. “So I knew if I had the title of Miss Idaho USA, it would allow me different opportunities to work with various organizations and travel the world doing what I love, which is working with young people.”
During her first year competing in the Miss Idaho USA 2016 competition, Lewis did well — finishing as the second runner up among 14 of her peers. Being new to the activity, she wasn’t entirely comfortable, she said, and struggled as she questioned what the ideal Miss Idaho might look like. This time around, Lewis focused being herself, what gifts she brings to the table and what she can do with the title.
Confidence and knowing herself definitely helped, as well as getting to know the other ladies competing, she said. Although some might assume the competition is similar to pageant portrayals in films like “Miss Congeniality,” Lewis said that couldn’t be further from the truth. Her mother Tammy, who has been present with the rest of the family at both pageants, agreed.
“Most of the girls I met are not the diamonds and tiaras,” Tammy said, a former public affairs officer. “They are normal, ordinary kids who are strong and confident and willing. It takes some guts to get out on that stage and have everybody staring at you and not trip. I’m most impressed in general by how wonderful so many of the girls are — just how real most of these girls are. I’m encouraged by them to see young people who are stepping out; they’re the ones who are going to make a difference.”
Lewis said it is their diversity that makes each competitor unique — a pleasant surprise to her as she warmed to the pageantry realm.
“We know we’re all different, and we would all bring different things to the title, but end of the day, we’re all so supportive of each other,” she said.
The Miss USA competition will take place in spring or summer 2017. To follow Lewis’ reign as Miss Idaho USA 2017, visit facebook.com/MissIdahoUSA.