Among the many visitors to Sistersville on March 15 for Sisters Fest weekend activities was Chelsea Welch, the newly elected Miss West Virginia USA 2013. Fresh from a speaking engagement with students at Doddridge County Middle School, the titled miss joined in the festivities at the Sistersville Elks ballroom to take part in the 14th annual festival of sisters.
"This is great!" she said. "I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it. I have family from here, so I've spent a lot of time here, and when I heard about this organized gathering of women, I knew I had to come and see it for myself. This is amazing."
Welch, 22, calls Doddridge County home and was selected from a field of 63 young ladies vying for the title of Miss West Virginia USA on Oct. 28 in Flatwoods, W.Va. The daughter of Cindy (Beaver) Welch, a Tyler County native, Chelsea graduated from Doddridge County High School in 2008, is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor of Science Degree and presently attends Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Though her heart is set on a career in the field of Natural Resources, Welch said women's issues, especially here in West Virginia, is a topic she is very interested in and speaks about often in engagements around the country.
Miss West Virginia USA Chelsea Welch
"Issues women face-their relationships, the strong bond women form with each other, their successes and failures-are all important and can teach us so much. I think it's fitting that I'm here in Sistersville at this gathering of women where the bonds and relationships between women have been built and are obviously very strong, and that March is National Women's History Month. I'm very impressed, I'm learning a lot and I'm having a wonderful time."
In fact, Welch feels so strongly about the subject of women's issues that she recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with Senator Jay Rockefeller to discuss the subject matter.
Thus far in her reign, Miss West Virginia USA says it has been a busy, fun, life-changing year with speaking engagements and appearances. "The opportunities I've been given are tremendous," she said. "And I realize this. I especially love the occasions when I get to speak to and interact with younger kids. I speak about the pathways to success and how they can achieve anything, and how important the choices they make are."
Welch, who also represented West Virginia in the 2007 Miss Teen USA national pageant, will compete for the title of Miss USA in June.