23-year-old Ashburn native Kailee Horvath just won Miss Virginia USA 2022, but it’s just another item on her résumé: She’s also a volunteer firefighter, medical assistant, and fitness instructor.
You’ve competed in Miss Virginia USA six times. How does it feel to finally take home the crown?
It’s honestly so amazing and definitely a dream come true. Yes, I’ve been competing for six years; I started back as a teen, worked my way up, and it’s many, many years of hard work and determination … it’s still so surreal three weeks later.
You’ve been a volunteer with the Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department since high school. Why do you stick with it?
It’s a family business for me. My dad has been a volunteer for over two decades, and my older brother also joined when he was in high school. I grew up as a dancer; I ended up having to quit because of an injury, and I was looking for something else to do, and I just took a leap of faith and decided to join the fire department. I completely fell in love with it. It was kind of just going in blind, not really knowing what to expect despite my family being there. Now, I have friends there who are twice my age, [who] have kids that are my age, and I consider them to be really good friends of mine. So, I really did find a place where I could be myself, and I found a home at the firehouse.
How are you preparing for Miss USA 2022?
Definitely had to hit the ground running. We don’t even know when Miss USA is, but we’re trying to make sure that we’re getting my wardrobe ready, and I’m getting prepared mentally and physically. I’m so lucky I have such an amazing team … That helps a lot, moving forward for Miss USA, because I definitely have no idea what to expect, but I’m just excited.
You’re also a fitness instructor and medical assistant. How do you find the time?
You make time for things that are important to you, and I’ve always said I thrive best under pressure. So when it’s super busy I always feel like I do better.
What advice would you give to the young girls looking up to you?
Success isn’t determined by how many times you reach your goals but how many times you keep trying. You might not achieve things you want to achieve on the first try, but that doesn’t mean that you should feel defeated or that you shouldn’t keep trying. My dad has always told me, every time I say I want to quit, to persevere and keep going. I’m really glad I listened to him after all these years.
This story originally ran in our July issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.