NEW HAVEN — Miss West Virginia USA Lauren Roush will board an airplane to Las Vegas on Wednesday in the hopes of achieving a lifetime goal – that of winning the title of Miss USA.
Roush, of New Haven, won the state title on Oct. 16, 2016. She will be competing for the national title over 10 days in May, which will climax when Miss USA is crowned on May 14, live on Fox television. The pageant will take place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Roush said the contestants will be doing a lot of promos, photo shoots and rehearsing during the 10 days prior to the crowning.
“We don’t have a schedule yet of everything we are going to do when we get there,” Roush said. “We have to be prepared for absolutely anything. I’m taking a full, two-week wardrobe with everything from athletic wear to evening gowns.”
Roush said the actual preliminary competition begins May 11 and will be available to watch as a webcast on the Miss USA site. There will be swimsuit and evening gown competitions narrowing down the women to a number of finalists. The finalists will once again compete in swimsuit and evening gown events, as well as personal interviews. On the night of the pageant, the top five finalists will be asked on-stage questions.
She said she will be taking five pieces of luggage with her on the plane, but will be carrying her pageant evening gown. Not wanting to release details of her dress in order to keep it a mystery, Roush did say the gown weighs more than 60 pounds. She traveled to the Austin, Texas headquarters of Sherri Hill, along with Ms. Hill, to design the evening gown.
Roush has traveled extensively since being crowned Miss West Virginia USA. She has been in New York City a few times, doing photo shoots there, as well as in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Roush has also spoken to girls across the state on the women’s empowerment program she founded, titled “To My Younger Self.”
Adapting the program for the age of her audience, Roush said she speaks to the girls about information she wishes she had known at their age. The importance of school, reading, and relationships are all topics touched upon.
“My parents were teenage parents, and I want girls to know that adult actions lead to adult consequences,” Roush emphasized.
In our state, Roush attended Lobby Day at the West Virginia State Capitol with the “West Virginia Free” delegation, whose mission, she said, is to help provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare for the women of the state. She has also enjoyed the school visits, and visits to various other places like the children’s hospital at West Virginia University.
Traveling and speaking have not been the only activities for the title holder. Roush has maintained a full load of school work at West Virginia University, recently attending her pinning ceremony. The ceremony signified the completion of her bachelor’s degree work in English. She is enrolled in a five-year program and will graduate next year with a master’s degree in education.
Roush finished student teaching English at Morgantown High School on Thursday. Her finals and final project were set to end May 1. Student teaching during the day, classes in the evening, and doing workouts twice a day have been the norm for Roush lately.
Working out and staying fit are important steps in the road to the pageant. Eating healthy is also a part of her regimen, although after the pageant, she is looking forward to celebrating with a cheeseburger from In-N-Out Burger.
Roush’s family recently hosted a large send-off party in her honor in Morgantown. The theme was from her favorite book, “The Great Gatsby.”
“I’m an English geek,” Roush said. “I love ‘The Great Gatsby’ and I love theme parties. Everything was so pretty, and there was a huge backdrop with my name on it for people to stand in front of for pictures, just like a celebrity.”
She said her aunt, Rachel Tyo of Oopsa Daisy Flowers and Gifts, did all the decorations with huge feather arrangements. A friend made her cake and cupcakes, and people came dressed in clothes depicting the 1920’s.
Several people from Roush’s family, as well as friends, will be traveling to Las Vegas to cheer her on in the pageant. Roush said she feels fortunate to be from Mason County, where people have been so supportive.
“They are just the most supportive people ever,” she said. “They have already made me feel like I won, even before the competition.”
Roush said she wants, and plans, to give back to the community that has been so good to her. She is planning some school visits once the pageant is over, as well as other local appearances.
Roush said if she could give any words of advice, it is to never give up on your dreams.
For now, Roush said she is just looking forward to getting on the plane, taking a deep breath of air, and soaking it all in.
“When I’m 90 years old, I want to look back and say I’ve had a good time,” she said. “I know I have what it takes, and now it’s just all what’s in God’s plans.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.