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During Marietta’s four-day break last October, Casey Lassiter ’18 was posed a question about how education was important to her.

Having just completed the finishing touches on her biochemistry capstone and interviews with various physician assistant graduate programs, the Spencer, West Virginia, native knew that her time at Marietta College would be the focal point of her response. What she said to the panel of judges that evening helped Lassiter, who is earning a degree in Biochemistry, win the Miss West Virginia USA title and the opportunity to compete for the Miss USA crown this spring.

The work she has completed during her time at Marietta College helped her achieve another goal: admission to Marietta’s Physician Assistant Studies Graduate Program.

“I have grown so much over the past four years here at Marietta,” she says. “My freshman year, I didn’t really know how to study. My sophomore year, the classes got way harder. Organic chemistry and anatomy really challenged me to develop better study strategies. And I also learned how much the professors here really do want you to stop by their offices and ask questions.”

Her academic advisor, Dr. Suzanne Parsons, McCoy Associate Professor of Biochemistry, has been one of many professors Lassiter has impressed during her undergraduate education.

“Casey is regularly the highest performing student in my challenging 400-level biochemistry course,” Parsons says. “She is not only very intelligent, but she is also one of the hardest-working students I’ve ever encountered.”

While it’s common for some graduating seniors to hit the cruise control button during their final semester, Lassiter has added more work. As part of her Miss West Virginia USA duties, she has made multiple public appearances and completed community service opportunities. She recently traveled to Austin, Texas, to select her competition gown.

“Before, I was working out on my own in the (Dyson Baudo Recreation Center), but now I have a fitness sponsorship that focuses my workouts to help me prepare for Miss USA. I have more sponsorships that help with other aspects of the pageant.”

Lassiter is grateful for the support she has received from her family, friends and professors as she prepares for the Miss USA competition and the PA program.

“I have had so much support from this school. President Ruud called my house (the day after I won the competition). That was a really special moment for me. My professors, especially in the Chemistry Department, have been so supportive. But they’re not going to cut me any slack — and I know it.”

- Gi Smith

Casey Lassiter '18 Poses in front of the seal of West VirginiaCasey Lassiter '18 fills out a holiday card
Casey Lassiter '18 Poses in front of a Christmas Tree during a tree lighting ceremony