TOOWOOMBA teen Ashleigh Ellem is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a role model for bullying victims.
Ms Ellem has spoken openly to The Chronicle previously about her experiences being cyber-bullied.
That part of her life, however, is now behind her as she competes in the Miss Teen Galaxy Australia pageant.
She hopes by taking part in the US-based pageant she can draw attention to the pervasive issue of bullying.
Ms Ellem was the target of cruel taunts and comments from cyber-bullies during high school.
The bullies teased Ms Ellem about her modelling experiences and growing portfolio.
But instead of letting their taunts dictate her life choices, Ms Ellem has chosen to take part in a pageant and inspire other bullying victims.
She was announced as a state finalist, and travelled to Brisbane on Thursday, where she was crowned as a national finalist.
She was against six other teens and is one of only three Australian finalists.
"I had to answer the question: 'If you were famous what would you want to be famous for?'," the 17-year-old said.
"I said, most girls would want to be famous for being an actress, but I want to be a role model and inspiration for boys and girls to look up to.
"I want to give something back to the community and to be successful."
She will now travel to Sydney in March, along with local make-up artist Marley Hammond and hair stylist Sarah Courtney of Urban Hi-Lights, for the Australian finals.
In the meantime, Ms Ellem hopes to raise $10,000 locally for the pageant's chosen charity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"It still hasn't quite hit me," she said.
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