By LARRY VAUGHT
Hayley Leach of Grant County has been a press intern for Sen. Mitch McConnell in Washington, D.C., for a semester and co-authored a book on autism with her younger brother, who is autistic. She’s competed in numerous pageants and been crowned Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival queen while representing the University of Kentucky and also won Miss Woodford County and Miss Danville titles in other pageants — and will compete to become Miss Kentucky June 5-8.
Leach, a senior at UK with a double major in Political Science and Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies, is also a UK ambassador for a tobacco free campus.
“My freshman year I was looking for on campus student position,” she said. “This job had flexible hours. It was a paid position but also a leadership position. I applied for it, got it and love it. I want to make our campus healthier. We help educate students about nicotine replacement therapy. We try to help make a difference and try to improve the quality of life on campus that we all love so much.
“Tobacco use is actually down among students but e-cigarettes are a big problem that we are now working on.”
She grew up on a farm in Grant County where she can never remember not being a University of Kentucky fan.
“I am a huge sports fan. I love going to all the Kentucky football and basketball games now,” Leach said. “I have bled blue since I was a little girl. One of my first Halloween costumes was a UK cheerleading outfit. I have always watched basketball and that has been a huge part of my life.”
She knows a few Kentucky football players because her boyfriend knows UK senior linebacker Kash Daniel. They are on the bass fishing team together.
“They are both from eastern Kentucky and some football players actually live with my boyfriend. Knowing them just makes being a Kentucky football fan even better,” Leach, a runner in high school who qualified for the state cross country meet four straight years, said.
She tries to go to as many sporting events as possible on campus.
“I do stay busy but I do go to games,” she said. “I think it is important to have time to have fun and do normal things and what is more fun or normal than going to watch the Cats. I know some students don’t go to games but I do and hopefully always will get to keep going to games.”