SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — About 150 relatives and friends gathered in Shepherdstown Sunday afternoon for an official send-off to Andrea Rogers as she heads to Las Vegas and the Miss USA competition.
Rogers, 24, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was crowned Miss West Virginia USA in October in a pageant in Flatwoods, W.Va., in Braxton County. The 5-foot, 11-inch blonde is a permanent substitute special-education teacher at North Middle School in Martinsburg.
Miss USA state contestants often have a send-off reception, she said.
“It’s a way for me to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who supported me and it gives me a chance to show off my wardrobe,” she said.
She’s keeping the competition evening gown she’ll wear in Las Vegas a secret for now, she said. It’s coming from Oilverio’s Bridal Boutique, an official Miss USA gown sponsor in Clarksburg, W.Va.
She declined to say how much her gown will cost.
“I’ve been told some of these pageant gowns can cost $3,000,” she said.
Rogers won the West Virginia crown from among a field of 25 contestants. She won her first pageant in April 2011, when she was crowned Miss Eastern Panhandle.
“I only had 24 hours notice for that one,” she said. “I went out and bought a swimsuit, and I wore my high school prom dress.”
The Miss USA Pageant is a business partnership of real estate mogul Donald J. Trump and NBC Universal. The first Miss USA was crowned in 1952.
Rogers graduated from Martinsburg High School in 2005 and West Virginia University in 2009 with a degree in marketing and business management. She’s studying for a master’s degree at WVU.
The first official major event on her way to Las Vegas comes early in May, when she travels to New York City to join other contestants on a media tour of the city and a meeting with Trump.
She leaves for Las Vegas May 15 for three weeks of pageant preparation and a preliminary show on May 30. The main pageant will be June 3 at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The pageant will air live on NBC at 9 p.m. that day.
The winner will live for a year in a free luxury apartment in New York City, receive a salary, gifts from sponsors, access to a wardrobe and a long list of other perks.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Rogers said. “I’m very excited and I couldn’t be more blessed.”
Her mother, Kenda Rogers, seems equally thrilled.
“Pageants were not her thing,” she said of her daughter. “Since she was 5, it has always been ballet, jazz and tap dance. Now we’ve been learning how the pageant circuit works. We’ve done lots of traveling by car, train and plane.”
She said Andrea has driven more than 12,000 miles by car making appearances around West Virginia, to New York for coaching events and to buy outfits. She once flew to Houston to meet with a makeup coach, Kenda Rogers said.
“She doesn’t have a boyfriend,” her mother said.
“My boyfriend is a black-and-white Pomeranian pup. His name is Tuxedo,” Andrea said.
Andrea’s father is James Rogers. She has an older sister, Jamie.