Titleholder looks back on her year with fondness

PLAINVIEW – A year of performances, appearances, speaking engagements and more might not rattle the stereotypical pageant girl. But for a self-professed “tomboy with a crown,” it can be a challenge.

Such has been the last year for Plainview native Terra Watson in her role as Miss Wayland 2008, representing Wayland Baptist University as it kicked off the centennial year. Now, as she wraps up a long week of late-night rehearsals and prepares to hand her crown to another young lady, Watson said the experience has been valuable.

“This year has been a very challenging year, but very exciting for me,” said Watson, hard pressed to pick just one highlight of her reign. “I enjoyed all of it, especially the fact that God could use me in so many places. It made me really think about how God uses us when you get put into a position like that.”

Almost from the day she was crowned, Terra was busy with appearances that are customary for the titleholder, some that even traditions from when the pageant started in 1972. She spoke and sang and numerous local and area organization meetings, performed at some events for homecoming and at several churches. She also spoke to several groups of younger students in the city, both at events on campus and off, addressing issues like making wise choices and being good role models while encouraging students to set their sights on a college education.

A highlight was working on the Habitat for Humanity building project the school undertook as part of the centennial, something she really enjoyed since she was working alongside several friends.

But the year was not without challenges for the young junior business major.

“The challenge was in juggling everything I had to do and keep in mind that people are always watching me, especially since I’m from Plainview,” Watson said. “The most rewarding thing was to know that I was being myself during it all.”

This year’s pageant, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday in Harral Auditorium, has been another source of both challenge and enjoyment for Watson, as several friends are competing to be her successor. Some she personally recruited, believing they would make good title holders. Others she said she didn’t know as well but has come to love and appreciate as fellow students and strong young women.

She approaches Saturday’s pageant with mixed feelings, knowing it will be tough to give up the role she’s come to love but also excited to hand off the crown to allow another young lady to experience the amazing year she’s had. Watson said she’s definitely a better person leaving the title of Miss Wayland than she was coming into it.

“I’ve always been a confident person, but I think I grew in confidence about who I am,” she said. “Also, dealing with the challenges has made me a stronger person and strengthened my faith, since I had to depend on God to get me through the hard times. It just affirmed to me that God can use anybody even when you don’t expect it.”

A dozen Wayland coeds are vying for the title of Miss Wayland during Saturday’s pageant, which features the theme “The New Girl in Town.” Jeff Kensmoe is emcee and former Miss Wayland titleholders will serve as judges for the pageant, which includes an opening number, evening gown, talent competition and a final question for the top five before Watson does her final walk and crowns her successor.

Contestants include Casey Brazell of Lubbock, Kristin Blakely of Borger, Jamie Clark of Amarillo, Joanna Jernigan of Shamrock, Morgan Metcalf of Big Spring, Alissa Mitchell of Clinton, Okla., Maggie Mitchell of Lubbock, Rachel Morrison of Lockney, Alayna Siebman of Childress, Allison Vetter of Robinson, Karen Wilson of Lubbock and Katie Word of Abernathy.