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All hail the queen

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Zwolle native LaRissa Phillips combines brains and beauty to be named this year’s Ms. BPCC.

Meet LaRissa Phillips, Ms. BPCC 2014

LaRissa Phillips is a pageant queen with beauty and brains.

The 18-year-old from Zwolle is a sophomore criminal justice major at Bossier Parish Community College who won the title of Ms. BPCC 2014. LaRissa said she only entered the pageant for the experience and to meet new friends, but was overwhelmed with excitement when her name was announced as the winner.

“I wasn’t expecting to win at all,” she said. “I was so happy for Emily [Jones] when she was announced first runner up. Then they said the new Ms. BPCC is contestant number two. It took me a minute before I looked down and saw that I was contestant number two.”

However, LaRissa is no stranger to a pageant stage. She competed in her first pageant when she was just 18 months old and has held state and parish-wide titles.

LaRissa said it’s not always about winning a crown though.

“I was a very shy so my mom decided I needed to get into something,” she said. “That’s when she entered me in pageants and I started meeting new people. It also helped me with public speaking and I like the fact that it gave me confidence.

“Pageants tend to have a negative outlook in society,” she continued. “No one really sees what happens on the inside. I honestly love meeting new people and competing.”

Now, she represents her school and wants to use her crown in a positive way during her year-long reign. One way is through a foundation she started two years ago, called A Very Merry Christmas.

“I collect teddy bears every year and take them to Shriner’s Hospital in Shreveport,” she explained. “This year, I want to make it a service project and get BPCC involved.”

She would also like to speak with young adults in her hometown.

“I’m not originally from Shreveport/Bossier so I would love to travel back to where I’m from to speak at Zwolle High School and the Sabine Parish area,” she said. “I want to talk with graduating seniors about BPCC and get them interested in coming to school here too.”

As far as her pageant career goes, LaRissa would like to grace the Miss Louisiana stage one day, with the hopes of meeting new people while competing for the state title. Until then, she’s focused on her studies and keeping her eyes on the future.

“I plan to pursue a doctorate in criminal justice with a minor in forensic science,” she said. “I want to be a detective or work in some kind of crime lab and one day become a criminal justice professor. I know it’s odd, but it’s always been something I’ve been interested in.”

If there’s one thing she’ll remember about her year as Ms. BPCC is that she got exactly what she was looking for when she entered the pageant – an experience she’ll never forget.

“I made some of the best friends,” she said. “I still hang out with the girls I competed with. I would have been happy for any of them to win because they were all super sweet girls. I’m just glad that I was given the opportunity to meet them. I’m definitely grateful for this whole experience.”

LaRissa is the daughter of Lee and Collette Phillips of Zwolle. In her spare time, she likes to travel, spend time with family, attend church and help with the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta festival and pageant.

LaRissa extended a special thanks to her parents, the criminal justice department and student life office at BPCC for their support. For more information on the Ms. BPCC pageant, visit www.bpcc.edu/pageant.