Name: Soleil Lewis
School: University of Washington
How long have you been in the Miss Auburn, Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen Program?
It’s been a month so far!
Why did you choose to compete?
To be honest, I chose to compete because I wanted to see through, this platform how I could help working middle-class families residing in Auburn. My goal for competing is to inspire people like myself. The people that are on welfare, facing eviction, formerly homeless, survivors of emotional abuse. I know there are people in all corners of Auburn that have been through this and worse. Sometimes when you’re down you need someone to encourage you, to say if I got out of this you can get out of too.
As Miss Auburn, your job is about reaching people at all stages of life. It’s about connecting with all types of people to be an ambassador for all. I’ve learned that people from different areas of a city have different concerns. The person living in a rural area of Auburn that has to drive a half-hour to get to work has different concerns then the person who lives in the urbanized areas of Auburn. They’re concerns are extremely different. Thus, you need someone that can mediate between all. As Miss Auburn that would be my job to be an ambassador to address both communities’ concerns compassionately.
What are you excited about in the competition?
I get to meet new people in the pageant. Also, I get to meet all types of people in the City of Auburn that have concerns about the city. It’s quite interesting. You always learn something from meeting new people!
What are you most nervous about in the competition?
Not sure yet. How about I’ll give you a rain check?
What is your talent, and why did you choose it?
I will be singing. I chose singing because I am a classically trained vocalist. I was trained as a student at the University of Washington School of Music. I would say for 16 years I’ve been singing classical, jazz, and R&B. It’s quite humbling to be a performer. You learn to make it about the audience and not you. It’s something I can hopefully apply in my experience as Miss Auburn.
What is your platform?
My platform is Advocating for youth in jail to obtain higher education.
Why is your platform important to you?
I am running for Miss Auburn because I see a need in this city. Auburn is represented under King and Pierce County. Two counties with the highest number of youths in jail. The numbers showed King County had 728 youth in jails. While Pierce had 870 youth in jail. In total, those are 1,598 young persons that should’ve been in high school, college, or vocational training.
1,598 is not acceptable. These are the same youth that, might’ve been homeless. They could’ve been in foster care. Those 1,598 are a reflection of the children continuously being left behind in our educational system. My objective is to teach citizens in this community about the issue. Sometimes people can stereotype certain populations without understanding the communal abdications it has on the individual being penalized. Those individuals are marginalized because of a stigma for being in jail. Yet, those who are released from jail are still viable to the economic stability of any city. They are still eligible to work, really they’re an asset to the workforce for Auburn. Individuals can still try to obtain an education once released at the community college level. They add new perspectives to the higher education community in Washington. Expressing these perspectives is necessary for expanding Auburn’s workforce and the higher education population. Adversely, this can help negate the marginalization forced onto “felon populations” seen in King and Pierce County.
To change the misconceptions of youth imprisonment, I plan to resolve these issues by working with incarcerated youth, social workers, and parole officers. I plan to conduct workshops with college admissions to come to these jails. As Miss Auburn, I want to push legislative efforts to stop denial rates for imprisoned youth applying for four-year universities in this state.
What does representing Auburn as Miss Auburn/Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen mean to you?
It means to me that someone in Auburn can see something bigger than their circumstances. If someone like myself who’s been homeless, experienced two back-to-back car accidents and helped to take care of two aunts – one of which had brain surgery the other I had to watch have a stroke, brain surgery, and a myocardial infarction. Sometimes when you go through so much you don’t think anyone else has gone through that. I want to be that person as Miss Auburn to say that, there is hope. You can still go to college even though you might be taking care of two sick aunts. You don’t have to give up on your dreams. You can still keep your mental sanity even in confusion. You can still make it through! As Miss Auburn, I want to be able to share my story to help someone else succeed in whatever it might be.