WVU Medicine ICU nurse to take part in 2021 Miss West Virginia USA® Pageant

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Lacey Russell is an ICU nurse in the Medical ICU at Ruby Memorial, who is also going to be a contestant in the 2021 Miss West Virginia USA® Pageant, which will be held July 9, 10 & 11, 2021 in Buckhannon, WV.


Russell is a no newcomer to the pageant world. She started with pageants in high school and learned that she had a “terrible fear of public speaking”, so she completely stopped. She said she thought all of her competitors were “amazing” and that she could never be one of them.

Then college rolled around and I was about to graduate with my BSN and I was like ‘oh, it’s time for something really fun, something just to take a step out of my comfort zone and grow as a woman’. So, I decided to compete for my very first Miss USA preliminary and I was instantly hooked. It was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes to be able to be on stage and just channel your inner Olivia Culpo, former Miss Universe, like amazing. It was one of the coolest experiences, and needless to say, here I am about six years later and competing for the final time of age eligibility, so I’m really, really looking forward to competing. 

Lacy Russell – 2021 MIiss West Virginia USA® Pageant Contenst

In the past two Miss West Virginia competitions, Russell has placed the first runner-up, which is second place. But, she is hoping to change that in her final year. She has spent much of the last year treating COVID-19 patients in the ICU and she’s hoping that experience will make her be a better competitor.

2019 Miss West Virginia USA® Pageant

Russell said she loves her job, but the past year of the pandemic has been tough.

Russell holding an award after a pageant

“It’s been a year of growth and it’s been a year of just self-reflection and trying to figure out what’s best for my mental health,” Russell said. “It’s been really hard. I’ve seen probably more death than I’ve experienced within the first, you know, five years of my career within this past year, so it’s been a lot. So, I’ve really tried to reflect and learn how to cope with all of the stress of the situation.”

Through meditation, as well as taking care of her body through eating and exercise properly, Russell said, she has been able to cope with the stress of everything the pandemic has thrown at her.

“It’s hard,” Russell said. “But here’s the thing, everything happens for a reason, and God has a plan. And in reality, I don’t think I was ready last year because it wasn’t in the right headspace. This year I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow and just be able to center myself and figure out what I’m capable of. And this past year has taught me that I’m capable of some pretty incredible things, so I feel very mentally ready this year, and I think that’s pretty much the difference.”

Russell on stage during a pageant award ceremony

Working with COVID patients, Russell said, has taught her to be compassionate and how to make herself more available to others. She said she was never like that when she first started nursing, but all of that has changed in 2021.

Learning to be more compassionate and thinking positively through the worst moments of life, Russell said, has been “one of the most important lessons” she’s had to learn over the past year.

“I think that would be an incredible tool to bring to Miss USA and Miss Universe — is a compassionate person who’s able to communicate with people of all walks of life and in all different situations,” she said. “I’ve actually communicated with people in some of the most difficult times in their lives.”

And now, she gets the chance to represent “every single frontline health care provider” in the U.S. and across the world. Representing these individuals, Russell said, would be an honor.

So too would be winning the 2021 Miss West Virginia USA® Pageant.

Russell competing in a pageant

“Oh my goodness, I would — it would just be insane,” Russell said. “I never, in a million years, thought that I would ever be able to do something like this. I was picked on whenever I was a kid. I had no confidence. I struggled with just interacting with people in day-to-day life. It was really hard and if I would talk to my high school self and tell her that I was going to compete for something like this, I would never believe I would never have believed it. It’s just incredible.”

Russell said she also has a message for any young woman or person who is struggling with self-confidence, just like her younger self.

“You are capable of whatever you set your mind to and don’t believe anything that anybody has to say unless it’s positivity. Feed your soul, feed your mind with positivity and love and that is what will project to the world.”  

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