Towers Talk is a WVU podcast featuring Residence Hall Coordinators Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O’Donnell. Each week, the hosts bring you an interview with different members of the WVU community to help you get adjusted to your new campus home!

This week, co-Hosts Angela Delfine and Patrick O'Donnell interview Miss West Virginia United States 2020, Jessie Pennell. Jessie is a former Lyon Tower RA and former Braxton Tower desk worker. She is also a current graduate student in the Davis College here at West Virginia University.

Transcription: 

Hi, everyone. Welcome to Towers talk. I'm Angela and I'm Patrick. Welcome back to another episode. Tower's Talk is brought to you by Lyon and Braxton Towers. Towers. You can live anywhere, but when you're here, Your home. So today our guest is Jesse Parnell. Jesse is a good friend of ours. She previously worked as a work study for Brooklyn Braxton Tower during 2018-19.

And then she was an RA, a resident assistant for Lyon Tower, uh, and fall 2019. So she worked for hands before and after those stints with ResLife, she also worked in Bruin gold in Braxton Tower, but more importantly, before and after her, since with ResLife. She's been on the pageant circuit in West Virginia.

Uh, she's really gone on to do bigger and better things. Most notably is that, uh, on July 26th of this year, she was ground as Miss West Virginia USA. And now she's here to talk to us. So welcome, Jesse. Hello, Patrick. Um, just to clarify, it's Ms. West Virginia United States. So there's actually different systems.

Um, Yeah. So I look at this, we're already educating everybody because clearly I was oblivious and just laughing. We are not worthy. We're not worthy. That's right. So how's about you tell us about your journey, uh, as Ms. West Virginia. So as you said, I was crowned in July, so I really haven't had a whole lot of time to get started doing things.

And especially with COVID, it's been a little crazy, but. Just preparing, um, nationals are going to be in Las Vegas this year in October, obviously practicing social distancing for all of that, but just getting ready to represent West Virginia to my fullest potential and show everybody just how great our stadium is.

That's so awesome. Um, how did you get started in pageants? So for me, a lot of it was scholarship money. Um, I was told that I could make. You know, pay for a good bit of my college with it. So I was like, heck yeah, I can wear a pretty dress and I can make some college money. Let's do this. Yeah. So I decided why not?

And then I kind of just caught the pageant bug and I kept competing and competing and competing. And obviously after several years, like it takes, it does take practice. But seven years later I have a state title and I get to represent West Virginia, which was super exciting for me. Love it. Awesome. Um, so how do you prepare for pageants?

Is there like any like mental or physical steps that you go through to prepare for them? Yes. So some pageants have a swimsuit portion or a fitness portion. And in those that is when you have to take like your physical appearance, the accountants, and worry about, you know, your health, making sure you're eating healthy, taking care of yourself because a lot of things with patent trace on with just making sure that you're.

Representing like house taking care of yourself, positive body image, showing that it's not all, we're all, not a size zero. We're all not, you know, super skinny. Like we're all kinds of people. We're all different backgrounds. So trying to be inclusive with our physical appearances as well. And then with, um, mental preparation, there's a lot of mental preparation with that.

So one of the biggest portions of any pageant is your interview. So your interview could be anywhere from two minutes long to 10 minutes long. You don't know until you kind of get there or they tell you, but really that's, you just have to know yourself and be confident in your branding. So like, think of your career, they're going to ask you a lot about your career, your hobbies, what you're doing actively in your state or in your home County, that kind of thing.

So just making sure that, you know yourself is the most important thing when it comes to preparing mentally for pageantry. Very cool, Jesse, thank you very much. I was wondering about the interviews, cause I think about the interviews I've had to go through and they're like, so what are you going to do for our, for our university?

How are you going to push West Virginia university forward? I was like, what do they, what could they possibly ask her? Right. Thanks Jesse. I'll let Dan take over. Yes, queen. Thank you. So, um, you know, as we know, we have a lot of West Virginia native students here, but we also have a lot of students from all over the world and the country.

Um, can you talk about why you love being a resident of West Virginia? So I've traveled all over the country and there's really no place like West Virginia. The people are always so comforting and welcoming, and I love it here. You know, I hope to stay here even when I am done with college. Um, just because I do love it so much.

Naturally beautiful. And as I said, the people are just as, just as friendly and welcoming. I would totally agree. I am from Pittsburgh and I love Pittsburgh with my whole heart. But now that I'm a West Virginia resident, I absolutely, I love it. And I'm so proud to be from this state. Awesome. So, um, I love to shamelessly plug some of my favorite local businesses because we love to support a great local business.

Can you share some of your favorite, favorite local restaurants? Um, cause you know, we all love the eat, so yes. So I think you asked me this question when you hired me when you took me on as an RA, but, um, my favorite restaurant is black bear burritos. Um, and then stale at a downtown location, but they source some of their ingredients locally, which is double awesome.

Um, but their food is delicious, very affordable on a college student budget. If you know what I mean, and it's just a great ass atmosphere. Very fun. I agree with that. And if nobody's tried Blackberry, definitely get the Kiwi salsa. It is very different, but it is phenomenal. I was about to say our audience can't see Andy, but as soon as Jessie said, black bear, she was, I love to eat.

So eat also with our restaurant. Um, I know that we have a lot of great, um, you know, clothing companies and crafters in different businesses and along, you know, the whole state everywhere. So do you have any, um, you know, clothing companies or any other local businesses that you really love that you want to share with everyone?

So local business wise, Really, I try to support local farmers because you know, that is my platform supporting local agriculture across our state. So with that, I love to go to farmer's markets and like preach farmer's markets to everybody. But my favorite farmer's market is definitely the Bridgeport one.

It's so big and it has such a variety. You can get locally grown, honey, you can get locally grown flowers produce, and there's actually a lot more nutritional value when you purchase your food locally. So that's definitely another plus to think about, but you're also supporting your local economy. So for me, that's a really big part of purchasing your food and things like that locally.

I agree with you. And for those who are new to the area, we do have a farmer's market in downtown Morgantown, as well as a co-op, which is amazing. And you can get a lot of those great local goods that Jesse talked about as well. Thanks so much for sharing things. We love to see that. All right. So. Um, we're moving towards final thoughts, Jesse.

So you went here for undergrad WTU and, uh, for grad school, you're working on your graduate degree. Um, we similarly asked you about like, why you love West Virginia and your favorite local restaurants and businesses. So, what do you love about WVU? WVU is, um, as close to home, but also I just love campus. As soon as I toured, I said, this is where I want to be.

Um, just the campus is absolutely gorgeous. They have so many resources for their students and you can tell that they genuinely care for students. Like I said, I went here for undergrad and I loved it so much. I came back for it grad school. So I definitely do love the campus. And there's so many great qualities.

Um, like your RHDs they're awesome. I know too pretty well. But they're pretty cool. Um, and definitely like as a freshmen, they do take care of you really well and they make you feel comfortable. And I think that it's a steppingstone, a huge steppingstone and making sure that you love WVU is your RHCs and your RAs.

So shout out to them. Cause they're awesome. Specifically, Angela and Patrick, but that's okay. Thanks Jessie. Um, so just as your final question, do you have any final thoughts or words of wisdom for our new students this year? Yeah, so I definitely say take full advantage of your time in college, especially undergrad, you know, join that club that you were thinking about, make those friends really try to be as active as you can, because you want to get as much from your college experience as possible.

Like I loved my undergrad experience. It was super fun. I got to meet so many people because I did decide to do things out of my. I'm out of my comfort zone. Like I joined a sorority and you know, I did work as a work study and I worked in a coffee shop. So I learned how to make coffee. I didn't know how to make coffee before college, but that was something I learned.

So just take full advantage of every opportunity that comes knocking on your door. I agree. Thank you so much, Jesse. And. Just before I give everything over to Patrick to wrap us up, I do want to point out that Jessie totally wore her full crown to this interview. Um, so even though y'all can see it, she looks fantastic.

Not just the crown. She wore the sash too. So thank you, Jesse. Thanks for being with us and thank you for everybody that was listening today. You can catch us next Tuesday when we feature another special WVU guest. Thank you for having me.