BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – Over the weekend, the representative from Monongalia County was crowned Miss West Virginia USA 2022.

Krystian Leonard from Morgantown received the title on Sunday after the weekend-long competition. The competition was held in Upshur County at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts on West Virginia Wesleyan’s College campus.

Emma Kitchen of Williamstown earned the title of Miss West Virginia Teen USA.

Each contestant went through a private interview process with two panels of judges. They then competed in swimwear and evening gowns. The contestants who made it to top five competed against one another in an on-stage question.

The 25-year-old Monongalia County representative originally grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia but moved to Morgantown when she started college at West Virginia University. She competed in her first pageant when she was 14 years old when she realized that she wanted to be the strong and independent woman that she saw on her TV.

Leonard has been active in the community with her humanitarian efforts since she was 15. Starting pageants showed her her life’s passion, and so she started a non-profit organization called “Shining S.C.A.R.S. Inc.” Krystian Leonard grew up having a lot of surgeries, which left scars on her body. This non-profit is to help those find their strength and to build character for self-acceptance to rise above stigma surrounding scars. After starting her organization, Leonard became confident enough to write her very own children’s book “Shining Scars.” She received an award for her humanitarian work in 2021.

She competed in Miss West Virginia USA last year and placed first runner up, which made her want to work harder this year. Whether it was working out and staying healthy, doing interview preparation, or picking out her wardrobe, Leonard said she put in a lot of preparation hours.

This year, Krystian Leonard will be working with various charitable organizations across the state, as well as the Miss USA programs social initiatives such as “Best Buddies” and “The Smile Train.” She said she will also be getting to know the people of West Virginia so that she can serve them in the best way possible.

Miss West Virginia USA 2022 smiling after speaking on how she felt about being crowned (WBOY Image)

During an interview with 12 News, Leonard talked about how her state director approached her after her crowning to ask her how she felt; she had a heartwarming response. “I wanted to let every young woman know in that audience, and who were watching on the livestream that when you have a goal and a dream, it’s very important that you stick to it, and you stay dedicated to it. I know there will be times when you feel like giving up, and quitting, or maybe it’s just not for you. But you just have to hush those inner voices and just know that your purpose and what you want to do in your life is really important. That you are worthy of your dreams.”

Krystian Leonard is excited to be representing the state of West Virginia at the Miss USA pageant later this year.