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Sierra Deskins has made bullying her platform during her reign as Miss Washington County 2018. She tours the area’s elementary schools to offer advice to students on dealing with bullying.

ABINGDON, Va. — A Bristol, Virginia, teen has used her reign as a local fair queen to bring awareness to one of society’s major problems — bullying.

Sierra Deskins, the 2018 Miss Washington County, has spent the past year visiting local elementary schools, sharing her own stories of being a victim of bullying and offering advice on treating others with respect.

When the 18-year-old queen passes her crown to the new winner on Monday, Sept. 9, at the Washington County Fair, she won’t stop taking a stand against bullying.

“I don’t want any child to go through what I did,” said Deskins, who admitted she was bullied throughout elementary school about her appearance and because she came from a broken home.

“I tell young children to always remember to talk to their parents and teachers about what is happening to them. Always have a special person in your life you can trust who will listen,” she said.

“If you show the bully you are hurt and affected by their comments, they win, and it makes them want to do it more.”

While her elementary school years were the most difficult times of her life, Deskins said she learned to rise above the hardship.

“Bullying doesn’t define who you are. In fact, it can make you a stronger person.”

Sporting a tiara, a satin sash and a dazzling smile, Deskins believes her reign as queen has been a turnaround for her.

“I’ve grown and matured, and I’ve been able to put aside my fears of public speaking,” she said with a laugh.

“A queen is someone who is good-hearted and selfless,” said the teen, who credited her parents, especially her mother, for instilling in her qualities of a strong character.

Holding a firm grip on her dream, the teen had aspired to becoming Miss Washington County most of her life.

She placed first runner-up at the Burley Festival in 2007 when she was only 6 years old. In 2014, she became Junior Miss Washington County. She also plans to participate in the Miss Virginia Fair Association Pageant in January 2020.

During her childhood, she attended the county pageants every year, holding onto a dream that one day she would wear the crown that glistens.

“As a child, I was in awe of the contestants, and I just knew it was something I wanted to do.”

Her accomplishments in high school shine as brightly as the tiara she honorably wears.

A 2019 graduate of Abingdon High School, Deskins was a member of the National Honor Society and the Washington County Community Scholars Program. She completed her high school career with an advanced diploma.

In the community, she has participated as an Election Day Page and recently became a blood donor.

She played soccer for four years at Abingdon High School, where she enrolled in numerous dual enrollment courses through Virginia Highlands Community College. She will graduate a year early from the community college before transferring to Radford University.

Deskins will represent Washington County in the Washington County Fairground Parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, on Main Street in Abingdon; the Abingdon Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 5 at the Lois H. Humphreys Park; and in the Abingdon Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at features@bristolnews.com.

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