As Brylee Knotts, an incoming freshman from Grafton, West Virginia, prepares to arrive on campus for the start of the fall semester, she’s looking forward to beginning her studies in forensic science and representing Fairmont State University as a member of the acrobatics and tumbling team.
“There are definitely some anxious nerves, but I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life,” said Knotts.
That new chapter not only includes the experiences that come along with being a first-time college student – from living with a roommate in the residence hall to forming friendships with fellow Falcons from across the state, country and world – but also her newfound responsibilities as the recently crowned Miss Teen West Virginia USA.
“We’re so thrilled of Brylee for being crowned Miss Teen West Virginia USA,” said Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University. “Her achievement is the result of matching a big dream with hard work – something we know a lot about here at Fairmont State. Her commitment to giving back to her community is inspiring, and I can’t wait to see the impact she makes on our Falcon Family.”
Earlier this month, Knotts earned her title at the Miss Teen West Virginia USA pageant at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts in Buckhannon. For Knotts, who has been participating in pageants since she was a toddler, the moment was the manifestation of years of hopes and dreams.
“I was in so much shock, I couldn’t speak,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl, I would watch the Miss USA pageant on TV every single year and would think ‘Wow, I want to do that. I want to be on that stage representing West Virginia.’”
Knotts is now realizing that goal and hopes to use her platform to be an advocate for mental health. In between studying for final exams, perfecting her acrobatics and tumbling skills and taking trips to Atlanta to meet with famous fashion designer, Sherri Hill, and New York City to attend Fashion Week in September, Knotts plans to spend her free time visiting local elementary, middle and high schools to give back to her community.
“It’s important to let kids know it’s okay to not feel okay sometimes, and that they’re not alone in that struggle.”
As a student at Fairmont State, Knotts also hopes to become involved in the University’s Active Minds student organization which supports mental health awareness and education for young adults. With a busy semester ahead of her, Knotts is making it a priority to care for her own mental health by enjoying every step of the way leading up to the national pageant set for November 23 – 27 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I don’t want to remember this experience as stressful; I want to remember it as fun,” said Knotts. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity where I’ll be competing with 50 other amazing young women who are also worthy of that crown, so I’m just going to put my best foot forward, have fun and represent West Virginia well.”