WVU student named Miss West Virginia
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 11:07
A West Virginia University student received an honor recently unlike many others. Exercise physiology major Kaitlin Gates was crowned Miss West Virginia 2012 in a ceremony Friday July 6 and will participate in the Miss America pageant in 2013.
Gates, a Bridgeport WV native, has been involved with pageants for about 13 years. She was West Virginia’s Outstanding Teen of 2006, and this was the second time she has participated in the Miss West Virginia pageant. She recently had a conversation with The Daily Athenaeum’s Lacey Palmer about her experiences in the pageant and her future plans.
LP: First of all, how does it feel to be able to say that you’re Miss West Virginia 2012?
KG: It feels awesome to be able to say that because it’s something that I’ve been working towards for a long time, so it feels great to have finally reached my goal.
LP: What was your reaction when they announced your name as the winner of the pageant?
KG: I couldn’t believe that it was actually me being called, and I still can’t believe it. I keep flipping through newspapers and pictures, and it’s crazy to think I’m the person that was chosen. I’m so grateful.
LP: That’s awesome! Did it take a lot of preparation to get to this point in your pageant career?
KG: It did. I have been working since this time last year. Right after Miss West Virginia 2011, I started preparations based on what I wanted to change from my performance at that pageant, so it never stopped. It’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time, and it’s definitely time consuming, but really worth it.
LP: Was that the hardest part about preparing for the pageant – the amount of time needed?
KG: Yeah, it’s so time consuming. I tried to tell myself when times got rough, that the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. Anytime I didn’t want to go to the gym or I wanted to go out with my friends instead of preparing, I just remembered what I was working towards and how much it meant to me.
LP: How did you get your start in pageants?
KG: I got involved through my mom, actually. She used to have a monogramming business and she did some work for Miss West Virginia pageant. They let her set up a booth during orientation when all the contestants came through in case they wanted anything sewn for the state pageant, so I got the opportunity when I was about 10 to sit through rehearsals and orientation with all the Miss contestants. Ever since then I knew that this was something I wanted to do, and I’ve been a part of the organization since.
LP: For the Miss West Virginia pageant you have to have a platform, correct?
KG: Yes, my platform is Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures.
LP: Why is that platform important to you?
KG: I’ve always had an interest in it, and it’s my major at school. I’m an exercise physiology major here at WVU. It’s just something that I feel is so important throughout our state and our nation, but I definitely feel that it needs to be publicized more and brought to everyone’s attention - the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
LP: Are you going to be taking some time off from school to fulfill this time-consuming role?
KG: Yes, I have to take a year off from school. I’m kind of bummed because I was really into my major and I had a great study group, but I’m definitely not complaining. I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity, and even better, I get to defer all of my scholarships, so I won’t lose any of the money that I have already earned through Promise and WVU.
LP: What does it mean to you to represent the University and the state on a national level?
KG: It is such an honor. I can’t even begin to tell you how fortunate I am to have been given this opportunity, and to represent the state and the University means everything to me. I’ve done it before as Outstanding Teen, and I’m just so grateful that I have the chance to continue my work and reconnect with all the people that I met during my year and meet a lot of great people across the state.
LP: Okay, and what do you hope that people learn about West Virginia from you at the national level?
KG: Sometimes West Virginia ends up with a negative stereotype and people kind of look down upon us, so I hope to change that and help give our state a positive image. I want to show everybody that we are the best state in the nation.
LP: Okay, the final thought I have is that obviously, you’re now role model to many young girls. What’s your advice to those girls that are hoping to be in your shoes one day?
KG: I would tell them not to let anyone tell them they can’t do something. Especially with my age, a lot of people were very doubtful that I would be able to accomplish great things and do what I wanted to. I would just tell them to stick to their guns, and not let anyone tell them they can’t do anything, because they absolutely can.