Miss Virginia: Promoting a healthy life
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2002
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
Finally, the moment came when she heard the two words she waited so long to hear — her own name.
Julie Laipply, an Ohio State alumna, was announced the winner of the Miss Virginia USA pageant on Oct. 20.
Laipply said she couldn't believe it when she was being crowned. She not only took home the grand prize of the evening, but she was voted Miss Congeniality by the other young women vying for the title.
Laipply began competing in pageants four years ago. By competing in the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program she was able to pay off all of her school loans.
"These programs are a remarkable way for women to become their personal best," she said.
Laipply said she thinks an opportunity to have people listen to what you feel strongly about is a great way to gain public speaking experience, make contacts and create new friendships.
Her official duties as Miss Virginia USA will be to represent her state at the Miss USA pageant. In addition, she will use her title to continue promoting her personal message of youth drug prevention.
"I have been drug-free my whole life," she said. "It was so positive for me, I want to share that with young people."
Laipply graduated from OSU in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in leadership development.
"I put together my own degree program that was approved," she said. Her program spanned the political science, communications and education departments of the university.
A native of Columbus, Laipply moved to Virginia a year ago after, accepting a job as a Senior Management Consultant at Oxley Enterprises — a training firm contracted by the Pentagon.
She was not in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, when a hijacked plane crashed into the building, killing 70 people in her organization. She worked at home the week following the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Going back was frightening," she said. "It was humbling because the building that represented the nation's defense was injured."
Laipply said she is inspired by the cards, letters and drawings sent from children from around the world.
"The best way to defeat terrorism is to carry on with daily life," she said.
Her future plans include getting married and starting a family, and her long-range goal is to run for public office.
"I want to become a nationally recognized public speaker for youth, publish a book on success at a young age and own and run a youth leadership consulting firm," she said.
While attending OSU, Laipply founded PROUD, an organization which supports a student's decision to remain drug-free and promotes healthy life choices concerning alcohol and other drugs. PROUD activities included workshops, "mocktail" parties and speaking at area middle schools to encourage drug resistance programs.
Sherry Hwang, a senior in psychology, and president of PROUD, said it is a pleasure to work with Laipply, who is still active with the organization. Hwang described Laipply as "inspiring and animated."
"Her strongest leadership quality is the enthusiasm she has when she speaks," Hwang said.
Laipply's brother, Jimmy, is a junior in communications, and he was beaming with pride at the competition. Prior to the competition, he would help her sharpen her interview skills by conducting mock interviews with her. He even helped her out by buying press-on nails after she realized she forgot them.
"She worked hard, and we knew it would work out for her," he said. "I knew she had a good chance of winning."
"Growing up, my mom and dad supported that you can truly accomplish anything you put your mind to," she said. "I believe that. What we believe, we become."