TAUNTON — Lily Jeswald will be serving the greater Taunton community for the next year as Miss Taunton 2023, but she has also been serving and advocating for others for most of her life.
Jeswald, of Lakeville, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 4. She’s been a patient at the Joslin Clinic in Boston ever since.
Today, she wears both an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor, and she has raised thousands of dollars over the years to aid in research, in the hope of finding a cure.
Over the years she’s also been involved with various organizations including the Miss America Organization, different youth programs and theater.
Jeswald’s life has been one of service to others, and she’s only just getting started.
Jeswald grew up in Lakeville, not too far from what used to be the Silver City Galleria in Taunton.
She is a graduate of Dean College, with a double major in theater and English, and she is a teacher at Alma Del Mar Charter School in New Bedford.
Her love for theater is still strong: she was recently in a production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
And she’s always loved to sing.
“My mom always tells the story of how she knew I would become a singer: I was sitting in our living room singing along to ‘The Little Mermaid’ on VHS, and the tape stopped. She thought the video was still playing, but it was actually me singing Ariel’s song when she gives her voice to the seawitch, Ursula,” Jeswald said via email. “She says she immediately signed me up for singing lessons a few days later. That’s where I met Valerie Amaral (Miss Massachusetts 2007), who became my first vocal coach!”
When reflecting on her path to becoming a teacher, Jeswald said she had a lot of amazing instructors growing up.
“These people truly pushed me to become the leader I am today,” she said.
While she was taking her courses online during the pandemic, Jeswald said she had time to reflect on what she wanted to do, and who she wanted to be.
“I was hired as an arts and music teacher at Bridgewater State University’s ‘Arts for Youth’ Program in 2019. This is where I developed my love for teaching! I recognized how truly important teachers are in young people’s lives and I am honored to be that person for my 104 students,” Jeswald said.
“Growing up with a chronic illness was really difficult. I was actually homeschooled in the second grade because my school system wasn’t willing to become educated enough to help keep me safe at a young age in elementary school,” Jeswald said.
After her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, she realized how misinformed people are about the condition.
“There are many myths, but the biggest is that I became a diabetic because I ate too much sugar. This isn’t true: my pancreas stopped producing insulin, which regulates blood sugars. This means in order to stay healthy, I have to take insulin by injection or pump and maintain tight control of my blood sugars. None of this happened because I ate too much, or gained too much weight. In fact, a huge symptom of T1D is weight loss, and I was unhealthily thin when I was diagnosed,” Jeswald said.
Although there is currently no cure, Jeswald has raised thousands of dollars over the years to help aid research.
She remains “hopeful and thankful that although it isn’t curable yet, it is treatable. This is why it’s important to me that the people around me become educated at T1D, because maybe they’ll save someone’s life someday.”
If anyone is experiencing symptoms such as: frequent trips to the bathroom, extreme thirst, loss of weight without trying, extreme hunger, blurry vision, numb or tingling hands or feet and extreme exhaustion, Jeswald said they should see a doctor right away.
“It’s important to note that anyone can develop Type 1 diabetes, no matter your size, shape and medical or family history.”
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Jeswald is currently collecting “Type 1 Diabetic” ID bracelets and keychains to donate to people with diabetes across the nation.
“I’ve been humbled to be involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help educate and help my community. As a part of my mission with my social impact initiative, ‘Type 1 Diabetes and Me: Generation Z,’ my goal is not only to be a part of the endeavor to find a cure but to be a representative of people like me with T1D,” Jeswald said.
“This representation goes far beyond chronic illnesses. It’s about supporting everyone who has ever felt different.” 
When she was studying at the Burtwood School of Performing Arts in Middleboro, Jeswald’s voice teacher was Val Amaral, who would become Miss Massachusetts 2007.
“When I saw her win, I knew I wanted to compete one day. I participated in the Miss Massachusetts Mayflower Princess Program, which is a children’s mentorship program where young ladies are paired up with local titleholders. I got to be onstage at the Miss Massachusetts Competition when I was about 9 years old and fell in love with the stage,” Jeswald said.
In middle school, she competed in Miss Massachusetts Outstanding Teen Organization and placed second runner-up.
She took a break in high school when she became more involved with other extracurricular activities.
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Stepping back into competitions during college also became a way to help offset the costs of getting that higher education.
“I competed in many locals, and I even placed top 10 and 3rd runner-up for the job of Miss Massachusetts within the last two years.”
Jeswald’s experience with Miss America is extensive, “but my dream of becoming a representative of Taunton has been a goal of mine since I watched two former Miss Tauntons during their years of service: Devon Williams and Molly Caron. These ladies redefined the image and ideals of the Miss Taunton Scholarship Organization and gave me a visualization of who I wanted to be when I was old enough to compete: a confident young woman who shares her passions for her own social impact initiative and is active in her own community.”
Since being crowned Miss Taunton 2023, Jeswald has hit the ground running to represent her community.
She’s been involved in arts and humanity presentations at the Old Colony History Museum, was invited to sing the national anthem at Middleboro’s Veterans Day ceremony, volunteered at the Sip and Stroll at Middleboro’s Town Hall, and attended the opening of Deep Pond Farm and Stables’ Christmas tree farm.
Jeswald was also looking forward to being a part of this year’s Lights On Festival, and the city’s annual Christmas parade.
“It is an honor to be involved in such a huge piece of Taunton’s annual celebrations,” she said.
And she’s just getting started.
“I have a lot of amazing events coming up, but I am very excited to continue being present in the Taunton community and to continue advocating for my social impact initiative,” she said.
Jeswald will be competing for the Miss Massachusetts crown in June 2023.
“It’s truly such an honor to be representing the beautiful city of Taunton at the competition in June 2023,” Jeswald said. “I’m most looking forward to competing as my true, authentic self. I’ve always lived by the understanding that I’d rather lose being myself than win pretending to be someone who I am not.”
The part of the competition she’s most looking forward to? The day of service.
“Each year the Miss Massachusetts candidates participate in a service event before the preliminary round of competition. This stays true to the ideals of the Miss America Organization: preparing great women for the world and preparing the world for great women. By sticking true to our roots of service, we continue the legacy of Miss America herself: a well-rounded young woman who is talented, well-spoken and service-minded,” Jeswald said.
Jeswald said her plans include staying right here in Massachusetts.
“I am very happy to be a teacher in the greatest educational state in the nation, and I hope to continue to inspire my students throughout the years to love learning,” she said.
She also hopes to continue performing, whether it be professionally or in a small theater.
And she will keep going with her advocacy work for Type 1 diabetes research.
“I know, even after my year of service as Miss Taunton, that my advocacy for Type 1 diabetics will never end until a cure is found. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have been diagnosed, and many have no clue yet that they will be. They deserve an advocate, they deserve a spokesperson, and right now I’m thankful that I can hold that place within the Miss Massachusetts Scholarship Organization,” Jeswald said.
To follow Jeswald’s journey as Miss Taunton 2023, check out the @misstaunton page on Instagram, or the Miss Taunton Scholarship Program’s Facebook page. To book an appearance or performance, or to become a sponsor of Miss Taunton this year, send an email to MissTauntonInfo@gmail.com
Taunton Daily Gazette/Herald News copy editor and digital producer Kristina Fontes can be reached at kfontes@heraldnews.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette today.


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