WHILE she didn't win the competition, Whitsunday model Lara Mitton said she took a lot away from the Miss Hawaiian Tropics national finals on the Gold Coast last week.
Ms Mitton blitzed local talent in January to be crowned the Whitsunday winner and have the opportunity to represent the region at the finals.
She said the event was great for gaining more modelling experience and that she learnt a lot about what it takes to compete in a national competition.
"While I didn't place I met a lot of girls who were more experienced at modelling," she said.
"I still had lots of fun."
The 19-year-old is new to the modelling world but is eager to work her way up the ranks including in the 2012 Miss Universe Australia competition.
Ms Mitton has made it into the state finals for the competition and is awaiting confirmation about the date and venue for the event.
Her father entered her into the Miss Universe competition via their website.
"He is rapt with how well I've done so far," she said.
With time on her side, Ms Mitton said most of the pressure she is facing in the lead up to the event was mental preparation.
"I've been trying to keep up to date with current issues and what is going on in politics for the question and answer section," she said.
Aside from the serious aspects of the competition, the teen said she was also having fun choosing her outfits and getting in shape for the event.
"I've been hitting the gym pretty hard and looking for dresses," she said.
Ms Mitton has also entered into the Miss Dodo Girl Australia competition. To vote for her visit www.dodogirlvoting.dodo.com.au