By Anita L. Sherman
Special to the Rappahannock News
Twenty-one year old Samantha Casey of Jeffersonton — 2010’s Miss Virginia — skyrocketed to national prominence in May when she came close to being crowned Miss USA.
Casey finished in third place behind winner Rima Fakih, 24, Miss Michigan, who will compete in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant on Aug. 23.
Casey put her final senior year classes on hold to enter the pageant.
“I’m good, I’m good,” said Casey who still maintains a hectic schedule. “I’m doing things just for fun … like a trip to Vancouver, Canada. I’m busy figuring out what I will do next.”
The business and marketing major senior at the College of William and Mary said, “I came out of this whole experience as a different person. You’re there for three weeks, you’re getting no sleep, you’re exhausted, there were lots of interviews, and lots of challenges.”
One of the hardest for Casey came just a week before the pageant in Las Vegas when photographs of all the contestants scantily clad made waves nationwide.
“They all asked us if we were comfortable with these photos,” said Casey who admitted that not all of the girls were — including herself. But with years of modeling and prior pageant experience, Casey wasn’t completely thrown off. “I completely understand those people who were upset,” said Casey, “but I can also see where the pageant was coming from with a fashion-forward approach.”
Still, Casey had her moments. “I was embarrassed and phoned my parents,” said Casey. “I didn’t want them to be upset … they’ve been very supportive throughout this whole process.”
The photo controversy brought all the girls together. “We all stuck together and then Miss Alaska’s dad died while she was there. It brought everything into perspective — the competing, the friendships, what’s really important,” said Casey.
Getting to meet Donald Trump, who now masterminds the Miss USA pageant, was exciting. “He’s very different in person,” said Casey who added that he seemed most impressed that she was a student at William and Mary. “He told me that I should graduate.”
“It’s funny,” said Casey, “because when I got into the pageant I thought I wanted to get into movies . . . once it was over I was actually offered a part in a film but turned it down.
“I realized that wasn’t what I wanted . . . I didn’t want that lifestyle.”
Casey has received offers to act, do commercials and model but the biggest pull now is to finish her degree.
The question is: Will she return and finish at William and Mary or venture into Washington, D.C., and complete her degree at George Washington University or Georgetown? “There are many internships available there,” said Casey, who frequents the Arlington area where she does some individual pageant coaching.
“All the decision making now is up to me,” said Casey. “It’s time for me to decide what path I’ll take after these last few month and there is a lot to consider.”
As far as pageants, those days are done for Casey. She enjoys working with younger girls, helping them with their bios and resumes, and what to expect in the pageant world but, for her, she wants to be taken seriously.
“It was hard to turn down a movie offer,” said Casey, “but I’ve worked very hard and I want my degree.”
For now, Casey is taking it slow, figuring out where her heart is . . . but it’s never far from home.