by JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
As children, Megan Godfrey, 24, of Lashmeet, and Jeseca Bragg, 22, of Princeton, danced together — wearing tiny ballet shoes and fluffy pink tutus — at Princeton Dance Studio. On July 1, the two women will meet again on stage — this time in fabulous dresses and stunning jewelry — at the Miss West Virginia pageant in Morgantown.
One would think Godfrey and Bragg would be rivals. After all, they even attended different high schools. Bragg graduated from Princeton Senior High School; Godfrey is a Bluefield High School graduate.
In reality, the Mercer County residents are good friends and will return to the stage. This will be Godfrey’s third year and Bragg’s fourth time at the state pageant. They are excited to return and spend time with each other and fellow contestants from around the state.
“I look forward to the comradeship with the girls,” Bragg said. “We have all worked hard and we are all giving it our best. Some of my best friends come from the Miss West Virginia pageant.”
Her friend Rebecca King of Princeton helped Bragg get involved in pageants. King also competed in the Miss West Virginia pageant.
But if anyone asks about pageantry rivalry, Bragg and Godfrey are quick to dismiss the idea.
“Last year, I did Megan’s hair, two of the four nights,” Bragg said.
Godfrey enjoys having a friend from home at the pageant.
“To me, I prefer it and its helpful having someone else from your community. We are each others biggest supporters. We have become closer now,” Godfrey said.
Her favorite part of the pageant is the putting on the production and being on stage.
Co-director Cynthia Parsons said it is unusual to have two women from the same community in the state pageant.
“Megan and Jessica are both wonderful young ladies,” Parsons said. “I am especially proud of their community service and their efforts in bringing information to the public concerning their platforms and how to get other individuals involved in the causes that mean so much to them.”
Godfrey will focus her platform on volunteerism. She hopes to encourage people to find the time to volunteer in their community. And while it is a broad topic, she would like to help people understand the benefits of volunteerism. Bragg’s platform is helping youth make real world decisions. She said she was inspired by the death of her cousin Adam French and uncle Richard French. They were killed by drunk driver in February of 2009. The anger, grief and shock led her to work with Students Against Destructive Decisions. When working with middle school students, she realized many didn’t have the voice to say no.
“My platform helps give them self-confidence and the ability to make their own decisions and path,” Bragg said.
At the pageant, Godfrey will perform a jazz dance number. She currently holds the title of Miss Kanawha Valley. Bragg, Miss Mercer County, will sing opera. She is dedicating the performance to her late grandmother Kassie French.
“She got me started in music and taught me how to play the piano,” Bragg said. “In college, I was trained to sing opera.”
Bragg and Godfrey like pageants because of the scholarship money associated with the system. But they also enjoy spending time with each other and representing their community.
“The city of Bluefield and the surrounding areas should be very proud of how these young women have represented their communities this year,” Parsons said.
Godfrey is the daughter of Mark and Vanessa Godfrey. She is a graduate of Concord University with a degree in elementary education. Bragg is the daughter of J.J. and Diana Bragg. She is a student of Concord University and will graduate in December with a degree in history education. The Miss West Virginia Pageant will take place on July 1, 2 and 3.