Miss Rowan County Veteran queen contestants race for the crown

Published 12:10 am Saturday, July 2, 2022

FAITH — The 2022 Miss Rowan County Veteran Queen will be announced Monday after the Faith Fourth of July parade.

Nine contestants compete this year and will compete for the title and a cash prize of $100. The runner-up will receive $50. All contestants will ride in Monday’s parade before meeting at the stage in the American Legion Park on Gantt Street in Faith.

The following are this year’s Miss Rowan County Veteran Queen contestants:

Emma Marie Blackwell

Submitted photo: Emma Blackwell.

Emma Blackwell, 16, represents Veterans of Foreign War Rockwell Post 9134.

Daughter of John and Molly Blackwell, she is a rising junior at East Rowan High School where she is taking advanced and honors courses while being a part of the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corp, Color Guard and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also wrestles.

Her future plans include joining the military and working in special forces.

Emma has been involved with veterans by representing those who served this country by presenting the colors at events and wearing a military uniform to honor them. She has also been a guard for the color guard in the Veteran’s Day parade with Veterans Affairs in 2021.

She said she would like to represent and support the Rowan County veterans because they are heroes who have inspired her as the military has always been a big part of her life.

“I am honored to take part in events that i can express my gratitude for those who serve our country,” Emma said.

Kyla Alexis Rosa Bryant

Submitted photo: Kyla Bryant.

Kyla Bryant, 17, represents J.C. Price American Legion Post 107. She is the daughter of Lakai Brice and Quentin Bryant.

She is a rising senior at Salisbury High School where she plays on the girls basketball team where she is a 2A State Championship MVP, two time Rowan County Player of the Year, one time CCC Player of the Year, one time third team all district, two time first team all district, three time first team all county, three time first team all CCC, one time first team all state/high school, three time Salisbury High School MVP and 1,000+ point scorer. She maintains a 4.1 grade point average and is a junior marshal, former Beta Club president and is a part of the National Honor Society.

She has been involved in most veteran events at Cornerstone Church.

Kyla said she would like to represent Rowan County veterans because so many people have sacrificed their lives for this country.

Kate Carter

Submitted Photo: Kate Carter

Kate Carter, 20, represents Amvets Post 565 and is the daughter of Jeremy and Jennifer Carter. She has completed her sophomore year at the University of Kentucky. Carter received an excellence in agriculture in 2020 and has interned with Carolina Farm Credit.

She earned a 4.3 grade point average at Jesse C. Carson High School and a 3.8 grade point average at the University of Kentucky. Additionally, she was inducted into the ACT Wall of Fame in high school.

Kate played varsity soccer for four years, one of which she played as captain, and swam varsity for four years, played golf for three years and ran varsity cross country for one year.

She’s been on Future Farmers of America horse judging and shooting teams with club involvements in the University of Kentucky Agribusiness Club and Agronomy Club, Jesse C. Carson High School Future Farmers of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society.

Her plans for the future include graduating from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s of science in agriculture ecosystems and a minor in agriculture economics since she would like to work in that career field.

Throughout her life, she has sent cards of encouragement and other needed items to both active military members and veterans. Kate spent time at the Meadows of Rockwell for the last five years visiting with veterans and has worked with Rowan Helping Ministries for over 10 years to feed and support homeless or struggling veterans.

Kate said she wants to represent Rowan County veterans as Miss Rowan County Veteran Queen to show her respect and support for all they’ve given and sacrificed so the population can live in a safe, free country. She emphasized that her goal is to show her thankfulness and appreciation for veterans.

One of Kate’s biggest inspirations were her veteran grandfathers, one having served in the Marines and the other the Army. She said they have given her a passion for caring for this country’s veterans and she can’t wait to represent them along with all other veterans in the beauty contest.

Emma Drew Cornelison

Submitted photo: Emma Cornelison.

Emma Cornelison, 17, represents the Harold B. Jarrett Post 342. She is the daughter of Andy and Allison Cornelison and is a rising senior at East Rowan High School where she’s been a three-year honor student in advance placement. She plays varsity girls golf and competed in the East Rowan golf regionals and is involved with her church youth group.

Emma has been the president of Ducks Unlimited and treasurer of the Key Club, where she received No. 1 in community service hours at East Rowan. Additionally, she’s a member of the Junior Civitan Club, National Honor Society, student council and was the business manager for the yearbook. Emma has also attended mission trips.

Her future plans include obtaining her doctorate degree in audiology and working in pediatrics.

Emma has been involved with veterans by being recently crowned Harold B. Jarret Post 342 queen and attended the Memorial Day service at the Salisbury VA National Cemetery. She said her commitment with the post has opened up many new opportunities to involve herself with veterans and events.

She said she would like to represent the Rowan County veterans because it will give her the chance to support the men and women that fought for this country’s freedom. She also quotes Sgt. Brett Miller, who spoke at the Memorial Day service, saying “seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.”

Emma loves to spend time with her family, spend time at the lake, playing board games and giving back to her community in various ways.

Makayla Gray

Submitted photo: Makayla Gray.

Makayla Gray, 19, represents Amvets Post 845 in Rockwell. She’s the daughter of Anderson and Mary Gray and graduated from East Rowan High School in 2021.

She just finished her certified nursing assistant program and plans to become a nurse and work at a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Makayla said being able to represent veterans in any way is just an honor itself and with her grandfather and great-grandfather being veterans, she knows it makes them proud and makes it even more special to her.

Hannah Marie Laughter

Submitted photo: Hannah Laughter.

Hannah Laughter, 17, represents American Legion Post 8 and 40. She’s the daughter of Matthew and Crystal Laughter and is a rising senior at Gray Stone Day School where she played volleyball her freshman and sophomore year and maintained a 4.5 grade point average.

Hannah is apart of the National Honor Society, student council, Young Life, Awana Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

She said it would be an honor to represent Rowan County veterans and those who have fought for her freedom and to demonstrate her patriotism.

Sara Victoria Pierce

Submitted photo: Sara Pierce.

Sara Victoria Pierce, 16, represents the Freeze-Seymour American Legion Post 185. She is the daughter of Jason and Helena Pierce and is a rising junior at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Early College High School where she has completed all her high school requirements with a 4.3 grade point average. She enjoy gardening and being the nanny for an autistic child, who she has cared for two years. Additionally, she is deeply involved with her church, Friendship Baptist Church.

She’s been involved with the Junior Civitan International club. Her involvement with veterans include indirect activity through church, working with a veteran with a purple heart, collecting gifts for veterans, enrolling at Christmas for veterans and placing flags on graves at Memorial Day.

Future plans for Sara include working in meteorology with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of Fisheries.

Sara says she wants to represent Rowan County veterans because she has a unique perspective on the price of freedom and has an appreciation for it because her father’s family has been in America for 400 years and her mother’s family have recently immigrated from the Soviet Union to the states.

Lacy Nicole Waggoner

Submitted photo: Lacy Waggoner.

Lacy Waggoner, 18, represents Landis American Legion Post 146. She is the daughter of Mark and Linn Waggoner and graduated this year from West Rowan High School as an all county scholar. She works at Ivan’s Restaurant and played tennis, swam and cheered.

She’s a part of the National Honor Society and was involved in WRHS’ student council, Serve U and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her future plans include becoming an attorney then becoming a judge. She will be attending High Point University in the fall.

Lacy has listened to stories from veteran family and friends, noting that her grandfather was in the Army and stationed in Germany with Elvis Presley. She assists the Landis American Legion family with special projects at local level and helps local veterans whenever she can. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, she was unable to help with events this past year.

She said it would be her great honor to represent Rowan County veterans for protecting this country’s freedom. She wants to pay tribute to heroes by becoming Miss Rowan County Veteran Queen and representing all veterans to the best of her ability.

Lacy’s mother, Linn, was crowned Miss Rowan County Veteran Queen in 1983 or ’84 at the Kennedy-Hall Legion Hut Post 106.

Rachel Reese Webster

Submitted photo: Rachel Webster.

Rachel Reese Webster, 19, represents Disabled American Veterans Chapter 96.

Daughter of Kim Webster, she is a rising senior at Catawba College where she is majoring in business administration with a concentration in management. She is heavily involved with her university including being an ambassador, cheerleading for the football and basketball team, and being apart of the dance team and intramurals.

Rachel also is involved in numerous clubs including Faith American Legion Auxiliary, Phi Epsilon and Phi Theta Kappa honor societies and First Reformed Youth Missions. Her future plans include obtaining a master’s degree in business administration from Catawba.

She has organized Catawba’s Veterans Day event including the program, gifts and lunch for all veterans in attendance. She organized a service project by making valentines for N.C. State Veterans Home, distributed flags and wreaths at Salisbury National Cemetery and served at the Vietnam Veterans Luncheon and cleaned after.

Rachel said she is running for queen because it is her responsibility to lead and inspire her generation to honor both Rowan County veterans and all veterans.

“The sacrifices of our veterans are not honored nearly enough and I have the ability to change that,” she said.

Her interests include legal issues concerning the medical care of veterans and active service members. Because of this, she is considering attending law school after she earns her master’s to pursue tackling these interests.