At the Saturday night finals of the Miss Kansas Pageant, Tara Holland Christensen, Miss America 1997, reminded 31 contestants, “there is life after pageants, but it’s never the same.”

At the Saturday night finals of the Miss Kansas Pageant, Tara Holland Christensen, Miss America 1997, reminded 31 contestants, “there is life after pageants, but it’s never the same.”

Life is already changing for Sloane Lewis, a college student last week, and a celebrity after being crowned Miss Kansas 2012.

Stopping for a sandwich at a busy Subway shop, the 40-some customers stared at her, and one asked, “didn’t you win Miss Kansas last night?”

“Wow, this is what it’s going to be like to be Miss Kansas,” she realized. “That’s definitely not something I’m used to, but it will be fun.”

Although she has not personally told anyone about winning the title, on Sunday morning her Facebook account showed 82 friend requests, 142 notifications and 14 inbox messages, all positive, along with 56 text messages on her phone.

“I want to respond to everyone,” she said. “I could not have done it without friends and family who kept my confidence up.”

She has competed in other pageants and was Miss Kansas USA International in 2009, but has been out of pageantry for three years, when a friend encouraged her to enter the Miss Kansas Pageant. She won the Miss Wooded Hills local competition that brought her to Pratt for a whirlwind week.

The days kind of run together, she admitted Sunday afternoon. She doesn’t remember much about the private interview with judges, except for challenging herself to speak in full sentences, having awakened about 3 a.m. that morning with the flu. Not a dancer, she gave production numbers her best effort and had fun.

Sunday afternoon, she was all smiles.

“I can’t hardly wipe the smile off my face,” she said. “Every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror with the crown and sash, I smile.

“I’m kind of a goofball; the fact they took me seriously when I said I wanted to be Miss Kansas makes me laugh,” she said.

Lewis is serious about the job that begins immediately. As a part of her platform to empower at-risk youth, she has been a volunteer program coordinator for StopGap, Inc., an organization that educates foster children about the transition from foster care to adulthood. The average foster child lives in three different homes for up to five years, and many “age out” of the system without the life skills they need to succeed. The organization in Douglas County has just received a grant to establish a living facility for young adults to learn about themselves and the future.

Lewis won’t be there to personally help with that endeavor, but she hopes to take a message statewide about the need for stability in the foster system, and also to work with legislators to change laws.

Her passion for improving foster care and helping young people make the transition to adulthood is inspired by a cousin, who grew up in and out of foster care.

“It is disappointing to see him not reach his dreams,” she said. “He didn’t have a happy ending to his story.”

Lewis said she is a big dreamer, doesn’t like when people doubt her and an “over-the-top” person who doesn’t settle for just doing something. She wants to be the best she can be.

Her ultimate goal is to work in politics, to be a person who influences people and creates change. She’s already posted her first campaign sign on Twitter: “Lewis for president in 2032,” the first year she will reach the age of eligibility.

While a race for the presidency may be in the future, the next big challenge will be the Miss America Pageant January in Las Vegas, for which Lewis has already given notice: “get ready for something big.”