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Grant County native Hayley Leach nearing end of reign as Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival queen

By Jaime Vaught
Special to KyForward
The reigning queen of the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival has just completed a memorable spring semester in college and is ending her reign as Mountain Laurel Festival queen as well.
Hayley Leach, a junior-to-be political science major at the University of Kentucky, spent the semester working as an intern for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Leach was a part of a group of 13 UK students who participated in the inaugural class of the Wildcats at the Capitol program which is a partnership between the Department of Political Science, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the President.

“It was a phenomenal experience to work as the Press Intern for Senator McConnell this past semester,” said Leach, who will be returning to Pineville for KMLF festivities during the Memorial Day weekend.

Hayley Leach (Photo by Jamie Vaught)

As part of the program, Leach lived with 12 other UK students in a townhome a block from the Capitol. She took Kentuckians on tours of the Capitol and regularly attended press conferences and hearings.
Leach — who graduated from Grant County High School in Dry Ridge — received academic honors and earned a 3.9 grade point average this semester. She has a double major in Political Science, and Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies. She plans to attend law and business schools and earn a dual degree with a Juris Doctorate of Law and a Masters in Public Policy.
In addition to academics and college activities as well as serving as the 2017 KMLF queen, Leach is also participating in the upcoming Miss Kentucky pageant in late June. She will be competing as Miss Woodford County.
Leach is passionate about helping the kids and educating the public about autism and bullying prevention, motivated by her younger brother Matthew who has the disorder. She developed a sibling support group, Hayley’s Heroes, to help educate others.
“I was inspired to do more in support of Matthew after he was bullied numerous times at school.”

Leach, who will be giving up her crown to the new queen at the 2018 KMLF, is anxious to visit the festival again.
“I’m absolutely excited to be back in Pineville for KMLF,” she said. “The Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival is the most spectacular event I have ever had the honor to be a part of. The people of Pineville are the kindest people on the planet and the festival itself is the epitome of southern hospitality and charm.”

Click image to go to website for more information about the Mountain Laurel Festival.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor and founder of KySportsStyle.com magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

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