Miss USA preliminary pageant to be held at Virginia Tech

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - The Miss Virginia, USA and Miss Virginia Teen, USA 2017 pageants are being held at Virginia Tech's Moss Art's Center, 190 Alumni Mall, Blacksburg, VA, beginning with preliminaries on November 19, 2016 starting at 8pm, and finals being held on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 6pm.

Kim Nicewonder, executive director of the Miss Virginia, USA pageant says this year's Miss Virginia, USA and Miss Virginia Teen, USA contestants will be competing as their ‘complete self' as opposed to their ‘compete self.'"

"Miss USA is looking for a woman that exemplifies the Miss USA slogan, 'Confidentially Beautiful,' and that starts from the inside out," Nicewonder said. "We want our contestants to be beautiful AND confident, showing off their ‘complete self.'"

In addition to the pageant all the Miss and Teen contestants participated in the Miss Virginia, USA, Champions 4 A Cause, annual charity silent auction, that was held at the Inn at Virginia Tech on Friday. Last year's Champions 4 A Cause event raised over $14,000 for charity and this year the Miss Virginia, USA organization is hoping to raise much more.

Contestants  gathered donated items that were auctioned off Friday night, and all proceeds will go to each contestant's chosen charity.

The Miss Virginia, USA 2017 competition has 25 women, ages 18 to 28, vying for the crown while the Miss Virginia Teen, USA competition has 20 girls, ages 14 to 18 years old, from all over the state competing to represent Virginia.  The coveted prize package includes over $500,000 in scholarships with a sponsor list that includes some of the best colleges in the state of Virginia.

Susie Evans, Miss Virginia Teen, USA 2011, reminisces on her experience, "I was able to attend Lindenwood University on a full tuition scholarship. They also provided me a work and learn scholarship to work in the TV studio to help pay for my housing." Evan's utilized the scholarships she won to earn a degree from Lindenwood University in Digital Cinema Arts, with a minor in Broadcast Communications. She is currently living her dream as a live entertainer in Tokyo, Japan.

Alexis Johnson, a Junior at Virginia Tech and the current Miss Lynchburg, USA, will be returning to the Miss Virginia, USA stage again this year.  Johnson placed 4th runner in last year's pageant. Johnson is excited about this year's pageant saying, "I'm honored to be selected as one of the women to representing the state of Virginia. In preparing for the pageant I have learned so much about myself and I can't wait to share this experience with so many deserving, talented, young women! My charity, for Champion 4 A Cause will be the Women's Center at Virginia tech."  Johnson's favorite part of the competition is swimsuit.  She explains, "I've worked hard all year to maintain good health and fitness! The swimsuit competition gives me the opportunity to show off my hard work."

Monica Osborne, a sophomore at Hollins University and the current Miss Mountain States Teen, USA, will also be competing as a returning contestant. Last year Osborn placed 4th runner up, in the Teen division.  "My favorite phase of competition is interview because I really get to show the judges my bubbly personality and passion for the Miss Virginia Teen, USA organization," says Osborne. Osborne is excited to showcase her Champion 4 A Cause item saying, "for my charity item, I truly wanted to capture the beauty of my background as a small town girl, so I choose to plan a weekend getaway in the mountains of Grayson County. Local businesses came together and donated a weekend of fun, including a $50 gift certificate at the historic Bolling Wilson Hotel, tickets to the state-of-the-art German-themed Wohlfahrt Haus dinner theatre, a stay at the local bed and breakfast and so much more. I am excited to see who bids the highest and gets to experience the area in which I grew up in."

With all of the excitement surrounding this year's pageant, last year's winners are preparing to give up their crowns. Desi Williams, Miss Virginia, USA 2016, and Gracyn Blackmore, Miss Virginia Teen, USA 2016, have had a very successful year giving back to their communities while promoting confidence among women all over the state.  Tickets for the pageant can be purchased online at www.missvirginiausa.com.

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