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Shepherd University student named Miss West Virginia 2021

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Jul 2, 2021

Shepherd University student Jaelyn Wratchford, front, reacts to being crowned Miss West Virginia 2021 by Miss West Virginia 2019-2020 Toriane Graal at the Airborne Event Center in Martinsburg on Saturday. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Community Garden Market employee and Shepherd University student Jaelyn Wratchford hugged her fellow two finalists in the Miss West Virginia Pageant at the Airborne Event Center in Martinsburg on Saturday night, as they awaited the results of the final scores from the competition.

Miss Berkeley County Elizabeth Lynch was then announced as second runner up, followed by Miss Elkins Area Sabrina Harrison being named first runner up, leaving Wratchford stunned with the news that she was about to be crowned Miss West Virginia 2021.

However, Wratchford also seemed up to the task, based on her answer to a question about leadership given earlier in the competition.

“I think leadership is both a skill given at birth and a learned behavior,” Wratchford said. “[M]y support system of amazing women and men have poured skills needed to encourage me to be a great leader–skills like organization and hard skills, but also confidence and just self love, that allows me to pour that into others.”

Wratchford also helped distinguish the Miss America pageant from that of being simply a beauty pageant, during the competition, through the words of her talent and original monologue, “Letter to a Young Woman.”

“Never will pretty be all that you are. Yes, you are pretty! But you are so much more,” Wratchford said. “Your body is not the most important part about you! The size of your waist should never be more significant than the size of your heart.

“The world will try, again and again, to interrupt you, to hush you, to silence you. Do not let it! Speak your mind, no matter how many ‘like’s’ or ‘um’s’ you must use,” Wratchford said. “Other women are not your enemy. The way to the top is not a staircase made of your sisters. We get to the top by lifting each other up. We get to the top together.”

One other topic of major concern, the need for the future Miss West Virginia “to promote equity and diversity,” was also addressed by Wratchford’s monologue, as well as in an answer to a judge’s question.

“I think the most important part as Miss West Virginia, is allowing the conversation to continue. It has started in the past two years, but we still have a lot to talk about and a lot of actions to make. So as Miss West Virginia, my goal is to be inclusive and invite everyone to the table,” Wratchford answered the judge, before following that thought up in her monologue. “In a nation where communities continue to be divided, above all else, be kind.”

Wratchford will go on to compete in the Miss America Pageant for the title of Miss America 2022 at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn. in Dec. 2021.