PLAINVIEW – It’s a Thursday night, and Ashley Applewhite is whisking through the door with dinner in one hand, wearing a beaded top, a sparkling crown, wind pants and tennis shoes.
The visual irony is amusing, but for those who know Ashley, it’s a perfect representation of her reign as Miss Wayland Baptist University for the past year. She’s balanced the role of ambassador and princess with that of a young woman blurring the lines between student and teacher in her first job.
As she prepares to hand the crown off to another young lady in the Miss Wayland Pageant on Nov. 5, Applewhite recalls fondly the memories of her year, though she admits it has been exhausting. The wind pants and running shoes reflect a hunger for rest, which Ashley says is not too plentiful these days.
A senior planning to graduate in December, Applewhite was crowned Miss Wayland last November, then set out on a whirlwind schedule that wove various appearances at service organizations, meetings and pageants around her already busy school schedule. Her spring semester was full of opportunities to represent the university, events so enjoyable she had a hard time picking a favorite.
“These were neat experiences because I got to share my points of view on what I stand for and perform my talents at the same time,” said Applewhite, a music education major from Olney. “I had a chance to represent Wayland and the music department and enjoyed that.”
Ashley spent her summer taking classes in Plainview and at the Wayland campuses in Lubbock and Amarillo, wondering all the while why she had taken on the full load. Then in the fall, she began her student teaching experiences at Lubbock – Roosevelt for seven weeks. Then, just as her second rotation was set to begin, a phone call came.
“I got a call from Spur that they had an emergency opening for a music teacher and wanted me to apply,” she said. “I did a lot of praying, and called a lot of the prayer warriors in my life to help. My ideal first job was not K-12 music all by myself. I had hoped to be an assistant band director in a high school.”
Applewhite decided to take the job, though, feeling that God had opened a door for her. Suddenly, the summer term became clear.
“I had no idea that it would work out that way,” she said. “It’s amazing to me that I took 15 hours in the summer and it turned out to be for a reason.”
For the past few months, Applewhite’s schedule has been rigorous. She’s up early for the drive to Spur, about 90 miles from Plainview. Then, after a busy day of teaching music to everyone from kindergarteners to high school band members, she heads back to Plainview.
The fall semester has been void of many Miss Wayland appearances, with her busy schedule and daily commute. And the last month, rehearsals and planning for the next pageant have added to her load.
“Energy is the biggest problem for me right now,” she said, enjoying a few moments just to sit before rehearsals. “I’m running on about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and I’m normally someone who needs my eight hours.”
Rest is not far off, though. Applewhite has the week of the pageant off, which she says will be used to get her wardrobe and talent presentation together and catch up a little on sleep before the big night on Friday. And while she’s enjoyed her reign, she is excited to see the pageant take the stage.
“The highlight of my year, I think, will be getting to crown the new Miss Wayland, because I know how fun it is to represent the university and give back to Wayland for what it has given us,” she said.
The pageant will begin at 7 p.m. in Harral Auditorium, with 18 contestants vying for the crown. The theme for the pageant is “A Knight’s Masquerade.” Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for Wayland students with an ID.