Plainview native finds "home" in unlikely place 

November 8, 2010

PLAINVIEW – Several things have happened this semester that affirm Jovanna Barrera’s decision to return to her hometown for her education at Wayland Baptist University. One was the relationship she began building with business professors at WBU, namely school dean Dr. Otto B. Schacht. Another was the fact that she was able to find a part-time job in banking that she had long desired, working at the same bank in which her mother Frances has worked for 28 years.

Yet another major confirmation came on Saturday night as Barrera was crowned Miss Wayland, the 40th young lady to hold the title. And while the pageant itself has changed somewhat since its inception in 1972, one thing remains the same:  the title provides a perfect opportunity for young women to represent the university they love in the community. This time, that community is also something the young sophomore loves.

But Barrera admits that wasn’t always the case. A typical Plainview High School graduate, she had hopes of leaving the city for her education, big dreams in her sights.  But she took advantage of the city’s United Way program titled PEP – Plainview Educational Partnership – and attended Wayland her first year for free. Although the experience was enjoyable, she decided she really needed to go away, so she transferred up the road a bit for her second year.  But when the time came to register for the fall term, she did some soul-searching. 

“It just didn’t feel right, and I really wanted to come back to Wayland,” she said. “Wayland really surprised me that first year and I enjoyed it so much and I met people from all over the world. I love the business school too, and I couldn’t get that kind of teaching and care anywhere else.”

She came home for a weekend visit and interviewed at Hale County State Bank, then got the job. That helped seal the deal for her to come home….  both to Plainview and to Wayland. She enrolled this fall as a sophomore and was going along smoothly. Then her mother learned of the Miss Wayland pageant and the scholarship opportunities attached to it and encouraged her to apply and participate. She met former Miss Wayland Amy Rendon at a women’s luncheon and had the chance to visit with her and learn more. The possibility intrigued her.

“I really wanted to get more involved with the school and I wanted to meet other girls on campus,” she said, noting that since she lives at home and works off campus, it has been harder to get involved.  “It was a great experience and I got to meet so many great girls.”

Harkening to the final question from the pageant, Barrera said she feels she can bring a different angle to the Miss Wayland role as a local girl.

“For one, I think I bring diversity, and since I’m bilingual, I can really reach out to the community and serve them,” she said. “I want to get involved and give back. I want to have a helping hand in any way I can.”

Barrera said she felt the pageant was highly competitive and had no idea what her chances were. When her name was announced as a finalist, she admits a little shell shock. Once the first runner-up was announced, leaving her as the winner, the real shock set in and lasted until the next day at least. Now, Barrera is just excited to get started on her role as ambassador.

“I am so grateful and blessed to be Miss Wayland and to represent Wayland,” she said.