Lauren Elizabeth Roush, 21, was born and raised in Mason, West Virginia. However, she has considered Morgantown “home” ever since attending West Virginia University. Lauren is a senior at West Virginia University, where she is a sister of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Education through a 5-year program. On the days when she is not in class at West Virginia University, she is teaching class at Taylor County Middle School. She has been student teaching for about a year and a half now, and she hopes to student teach at Morgantown High School next year.

During the summer of 2016, Lauren traveled to the commune of Ñuñoa in Santiago, Chile to teach English as a second language. For one week, she taught elementary school children while paired with another English teacher. During her stay, she lived in an apartment with a house mother, a widow named Margarita who spoke minimal English. Lauren says she enjoyed seeing the Andes Mountains, but her favorite part of the trip was being with the kindergarteners.

Lauren is a self-proclaimed “thrill-seeker” and “adrenaline junkie,” which started by going to amusement parks with her family when she was younger. From age 5-12, her dad and brother inspired her to race motocross. Although her family still races motocross to this day, Lauren has moved on to new adventures. For her 21st birthday, she base-jumped off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. She also went sky diving while she was in Las Vegas and says she would like to do it again.

In addition to being the down-to-earth girl next door, Lauren is also a beauty queen. She competed in almost fifty pageants before she was crowned Miss West Virginia USA on October 16th, 2016. After placing first runner-up in 2015, she made it her mission to do at least one thing each day that would help her achieve the title of Miss West Virginia USA the following year. Ultimately, her hard work paid off as she finally reached her goal of being able to represent her home state of West Virginia on a national level at the Miss USA pageant in 2017.

Lauren wants outsiders to look beyond her crown; she wants people to know that there is a lot more that goes into pageantry than what meets the eye. The women who compete in pageants are not only scored on their outer beauty. Instead, they are judged based on their poise, eloquence, health, and wellness. Lauren worked out at the gym every day for the year leading up to the Miss West Virginia USA pageant, with cycling being her favorite form of exercise. She also wrote an influential speech titled “To My Younger Self,” which she presents to young girls in elementary school, middle school, and high school. Lauren says she utilized as many opportunities as possible to better herself in order to prepare for the pageant, and that was a key element to her winning attitude.

“As Miss West Virginia USA, I want to dedicate my reign as a public servant for my state. West Virginia has given me so much in my life. My humble Appalachian roots are a huge part of my identity. I was raised to treat everyone with respect, to appreciate the little things in life, and that being kind is invaluable. As president Kennedy said, ‘The sun may not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do.’ I am honored to be one of these people, and I want to spend my year showing our nation just how bright our people shine.” – Lauren Elizabeth Roush, Miss West Virginia USA 2017.

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Written and photographed by Heather Lee Naples.


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