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Miss Teen USA 2012
Darren Decker  /  Miss Teen USA 2012
Logan West aims to use her platform to speak out against bullying after becoming the first Connecticut contestant to be named Miss Teen USA. She received her crown from Olivia Culpo (left), and Miss Teen USA 2011, Danielle Doty.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 7/30/2012 6:11:34 PM ET 2012-07-30T22:11:34

Beginning when she was 12 years old, Logan West endured being relentlessly bullied for being a biracial child.

Six years later, West has made history as the first contestant from Connecticut to be crowned Miss Teen USA, an honor that she received during a ceremony in the Bahamas on Saturday. With her increased visibility, West looks to use her platform to continue speaking out against bullying after having spent the past two years talking to elementary and middle school students in Connecticut about the issue.

“This is a huge issue to me,’’ West told TODAY.com. “Students have been very receptive to the message because it’s a difference between being talked at by a teacher than hearing it from me. I’m a teenager, and I’ve been through it. I was bullied starting at 12 years old and look what I am now.’’

As a middle-schooler and high school freshman, West said she was bullied for “not acting her skin color.” She was punched, kicked and stabbed with umbrellas by a group of bullies until it escalated into a fight where she was suspended from school. During her suspension, she came up with her own anti-bullying program that she began promoting around the state after winning the Connecticut Outstanding Teen Pageant in 2010.

“I lost who Logan was when I was being bullied, but I found that participating in pageants helped me find  ‘her’ again as well as gain the confidence to be a role model and voice for others,’’ she said. “During my reign, I hope to share with teens the importance of being true to yourself.’’

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West has delivered her anti-bullying message to nearly 20,000 students across Connecticut in the past two years. She also was part of a successful lobby that helped pass a law in Connecticut that requires school faculty members to be trained in managing and identifying bullying.

“I think my work is making a difference, and now I want to target this message to every state because it’s not like there’s only bullying in Connecticut,’’ she said. “I’m just so excited to take full advantage of all the opportunities I have for being Miss Teen USA.”

On Saturday, the Southington, Conn., native topped a field of 15 finalists to win Miss Teen USA, edging out Miss West Virginia Teen USA, Elizabeth Sabatino, to capture the crown. After graduating from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts this year, she plans on living in New York City and attending the New York Film Academy on the scholarship provided by her Miss Teen USA victory. She also will continue to promote her anti-bullying program and will work with organizations like Best Buddies, Project Sunshine, Girl Talk and Same Sky Trade Initiative.

As part of her victory, West will also receive a year-long salary as Miss Teen USA and will represent the organization at numerous events like movie premieres, Broadway shows and launch parties. West competed in her first pageant when she was five years old and has steadily worked her way up the ranks before receiving the prestigious honor on Saturday.

“I never thought it would be me,’’ she said. “I’m on cloud nine right now.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Miss USA 2012

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  1. And the winner is...

    Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, center, is surrounded by fellow contestants after being crowned Miss USA during the 2012 Miss USA pageant, Sunday, June 3 in Las Vegas. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Here she is!

    Miss Rhode Island looks toward the audience after being crowned Miss USA. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Passing on the crown

    Miss Rhode Island reacts as she is crowned by Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella. (Steve Marcus / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. The last two

    Miss Rhode Island waits with Miss Maryland, Nana Meriwether, before the winner of Miss USA 2012 is announced. (Steve Marcus / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Fabulous five

    The five top five finalists, from left, Miss Ohio, Miss Maryland, Miss Rhode Island, Miss Nevada and Miss Georgia stand together during the 2012 Miss USA pageant. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Best dressed

    The top 10 finalists pose in their evening gowns. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Top ten

    The ten Miss USA finalists pose on stage during the 2012 Miss USA pageant, in Las Vegas. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Swimming style

    Miss Colorado, Marybel Gonzalez, walks the runway during the swimsuit competition during the 2012 Miss USA pageant. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Looking swimmingly

    Miss Rhode Island takes part in the swimsuit competition. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Showing off swimwear

    Miss Maryland, Nana Meriwether, walks in the swimsuit competition during the 2012 Miss USA pageant. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Tonight's hosts are...

    Andy Cohen, center left, and Giuliana Rancic open the 2012 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Sweet sixteen

    Miss Ohio, Audrey Bolte, walks along the stage after being announced as one of 16 finalists during the 2012 Miss USA pageant. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Cutting down the competition

    Miss Texas, Brittany Booker, right, walks along the stage after being announced as one of the 16 finalists during the 2012 Miss USA pageant. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Picked from the pack

    Miss New Jersey, Michelle Leonardo, left, reacts as she is announced as one of the 16 finalists during the 2012 Miss USA pageant. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The Donald makes a speech

    Co-Owner of the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump, addresses Miss USA contestants on the last day of rehearsal for the Miss USA 2012 Competition. (Greg Harbaugh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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