Miss Wayland - Ashley Wood - keeping busy with last of her duties

Ashley Wood's schedule these days would probably make even the heartiest person swoon.

Up at dawn, her mornings include classes and work, while afternoons are characterized by more work and lately, lots of errand running. Evenings are spent at campus activities and then, later, hours of rehearsal for the Miss Wayland Baptist University pageant. Bedtime comes early... the next morning... and sometime in there she has to study and keep up with class work.

Is she a glutton for punishment? "Yes," she says without hesitation.

She's also Miss Wayland 2002, and though her week is not filled with the same anticipation and nerves of the 32 young ladies vying for the title, she's still got plenty on her mind. Seeing this pageant through from start to finish is the last of her duties as Miss Wayland, and she's looking forward to a little rest after Saturday night.

Wood and the 32 contestants will take the stage Friday for the talent portion of the Miss Wayland 2003 pageant. Saturday's pageant is the big event, with the evening gown portion, the announcement of the Top 10, talent competition by those ten ladies and, eventually, the crowning of the new winner. Both events begin at 7 p.m. in Harral Auditorium.

But getting to the point where the lights in Harral dim and the ladies take the stage has been a stressful and time-consuming adventure for Wood, a junior secondary education major from Gordon. Since being crowned last November, she's made many appearances for civic organizations, churches and other groups at the behest of Wayland officials, serving as an ambassador for the university. Since September, however, the schedule has been blank in order to leave her plenty of time to plan and carry out this year's pageant.

"Planning the next year's event is the hardest part of holding the title," she said. "There are more girls this year than any other year, and it's not so much the planning as it is being there for these girls. Only three of them have done this before, so you really want to be there to support and encourage all of them."

Wood said she started by developing a theme - "Motown: A Little Bit of Soul" - and then started the tasks of finding judges, designing programs and judges' books, contacting local businesses for gift donations and choreographing the opening number. She admits delegating some of the duties might have helped ease the load, but says, "I'm just such a take-charge gal that I just did it and never delegated."

As the pageant approached, Wood said her schedule just got more full. But come Sunday, she'll be able to relax knowing that, "Whether everything goes perfectly or not, there will still be a new Miss Wayland crowned Saturday night."

So is all this craziness worth it?

"Absolutely," she said. "This year has been incredible. It's one of the biggest honors of my life. You get to represent your school - and I love this school - and represent God as well.

"I've had some great opportunities to share my faith and talk about the Lord and I'll probably never know how many people I've been able to touch as Miss Wayland."

In addition to her pageant duties, Wood has spent the last few months planning her Nov. 23 wedding to Lubbock native Danny Sinclair. She'll be moving and transferring in the spring to Lubbock Christian University, so in many respects, Wood said this pageant is, "like my goodbye to everything. It's kind of bittersweet, because I'm excited (about getting married), but this place has been my life for two and a half years."

Wood will perform during Saturday's pageant for what will likely be the last time at Wayland. Then she'll get to slip out of the limelight as the crown is passed on.