West Virginia University at Parkersburg honors pageant contestants
PARKERSBURG — West Virginia University at Parkersburg celebrated the achievements of three students on Sunday at the historic Oakland mansion.
Honored at The Crown, an afternoon trunk show, were Sarah Weeks, Miss West Virginia Collegiate America 2019; Aryah Redmond, Miss West Virginia High School 2019, and London Heishman, Miss West Virginia Junior High School America 2019.
The three students will be vying for the national crowns and represent the state in Little Rock, Ark., on June 29.
WVU-Parkersburg President Chris Gilmer welcomed family and friends in joining the WVUP campus in celebrating the students’ achievements. Keith Gaskin, vice president of Institutional Advancement and president of the WVU-P Foundation, introduced the crown holders.
Several faculty of WVUP wished the students well, including Torie Jackson, Dean of Public Affairs and Experiential Learning; Olivia Reeder, faculty, and Brooke Buchanan, president of the WVUP Media and Communications Club.
David Creel, director of Special Projects and Events at WVUP, and Billie Shutts, executive assistant to the Office of the President, organized the event and served light refreshments. Oakland, also known as the James McNeil Stephenson mansion at 1131 Seventh St. in Parkersburg, is a resource center for the university and community after being restored by the WVU-Parkersburg Foundation.
“I grew up in Mississippi with beauty queens so it seems a natural fit for me to put the spotlight on these young women as they go beyond the traditional definitions of beauty queens to promote academic successes, as well as service to the community with their chosen platforms,” Gilmer said. “West Virginia University Parkersburg is proud to stand behind all of our students who set goals and go after their dreams.”
“Kindness is the world’s most valuable currency, and I thank the Board of Governors, President Gilmer and my WVUP family for showing me kindness in the pursuit of my dreams,” said Sarah Weeks, Miss West Virginia Collegiate America and official ambassador for WVUP. Weeks provided a trunk show preview at the event, which included a viewing of the fashions, jewelry and details surrounding the crown.
London Heishman of Fishersville, Va., said her favorite places in West Virginia are Lost River State Park and Trout Pond. She promotes the MHSA platform B.R.A.V.E., Building Respect and Value for Everyone, by volunteering at the Cinderella Project on the weekends to help students find the perfect prom attire. She was recently elected to the Cinderella Project Board of Directors.
Heishman also visits elementary school classrooms to read books on bullying and talks with students about their experiences. She is a volunteer with Cat’s Cradle, a nonprofit organization that promotes spaying and neutering. She is a foster home for Cat’s Cradle.
Sarah Weeks of Parkersburg will be a junior at West Virginia University at Parkersburg this fall, where she serves as one of the school ambassadors representing WVU-Parkersburg everywhere she goes. She is majoring in Strategic Communications, striving to one day become a sports reporter for ESPN.
She is the assistant editor for WVU-Parkersburg’s student led newspaper, The Chronicle, as well as the secretary for the Media and Communications Club. Weeks travels to schools and events around West Virginia promoting kindness with platforms B.R.A.V.E. and BeYOUtiful.
BeYOUtiful teaches young men and women how to find their self-confidence and self-empowerment. Weeks said she believes that once young people find their self-confidence, they will be able to help others and begin the chain reaction of empowerment because empowered people empower others.
Aryah Redmond of Middletown, Ohio, is a member of her school’s drama club. She makes the sets, props and does the makeup for actors and actresses. She is a part of her school’s honor band where she plays the tenor and alto saxophone and is working to promote the B.R.A.V.E. platform for anti-bullying.
In her book “Quite Like Me,” Redmond details her life as a shy girl. She explains how she gained confidence and her voice through pageants. She helps at her local food kitchen the Dream Center and helps grandparents who are raising their grandchildren with resources.