If you had asked Nevaeh Harmon what she hoped her college career at Marshall University would look like, odds are, having three million people nationwide watching her compete on live TV was not on her busy list of activities.
The 21-year-old competed in her first-ever pageant in 2022—before walking away with a crown and the title of Miss West Virginia USA in June 2023. This Friday, on Sept. 29, she will compete for the national crown, which airs live on The CW at 8 p.m., EDT.
“It still feels very surreal,” Nevaeh said. “Sometimes I have to go back and watch the crowning video again just to make sure I didn’t actually dream that moment.”
That dream was reality, however, and she has been in a whirlwind of events since.
“The pressure is immense, and the competition is fierce, but it’s these nerves that fuel my determination. They remind me that I’m pushing my boundaries and striving for excellence.”
Elected this spring as student body vice president, Nevaeh has chosen to take a step back from her role in student government to focus on a long list of appearances and responsibilities associated with her new title. She is also a pre-med biochemistry major with aspirations to attend the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine after graduation to become a pediatric physician. It’s not only a career she strives to obtain, it’s a path she wants to pave for other young girls who may be watching.
“As a first-generation college student and a Black/Filipino-American female, I will always feel the importance of being that representation and role model for little girls who want to be doctors, engineers, nurses, scientists, astronauts or in any STEM field,” Nevaeh said. “They are worthy of everything they want to accomplish and they are worthy of their own crowning moment. I never had this kind of role model to look up to when I was a kid and it’s so important to me to be that for them.”
Now, she is embracing her crowning Marshall moment, as she prepares to step out into the spotlight, representing the two places she equally calls home—the Mountain State and Marshall University.
“The endless amount of love and support that you feel at Marshall is priceless,” Nevaeh said. “The people I’ve met throughout my journey here have made such a positive impact on my life and that family feel is something that is utterly irreplaceable. Marshall University is and forever will be home.”
Regardless of the outcome, Nevaeh knows she has support from the Marshall Family and she is gaining a new perspective in the process.
“I’ve been thinking about the incredible journey that has brought me here,” Nevaeh said. “The confidence I’ve gained throughout this experience is immeasurable. It’s not just about a crown, it’s about the growth and empowerment that comes with competing at this level.”