Semwayo named Miss Wayland 2012 

September 26, 2011

PLAINVIEW – Love one another.

It is more than just a motto for the newly crowned Miss Wayland Baptist University, it is her name. Each day, Dananai Semwayo tries to live up to her name, encouraging those around her and remembering that she must love people in order to relate to them. Last Saturday, however, it was the audience and judges at the 41st Miss Wayland Scholarship Pageant who loved Semwayo as she impressed the panel in winning the Miss Wayland 2012 crown.

A junior from Miami, Fl., Semwayo is the daughter of Zimbabwe immigrants. And while her name (pronounced dan-uh-nye) carries with it the divinely inspired command, Semwayo knows as a Christian it is her duty to represent the love of Christ to others.

“It is something I carry with me every day,” Semwayo said. “I should love one another.”

Although the translation of her name was never a secret, Semwayo said it took a few years for her to actually understand what it meant, despite her parents’ constant reminder.

“This was around the third or fourth grade. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Dananai.’ That means something in my language,” she said. “I asked my mom and she said it means, ‘love on another. We’ve been telling you that for years.’ I said it made sense to me now.”

Born in South Bend, Ind., Semwayo is the first U.S. citizen in her family. Her father, an electrical engineer, and mother made sure she was born in the U.S., knowing they would return to the States. Still, Zimbabwe and Africa, where she spent much of her childhood are a huge influence on her life and she spends time every other summer with family in Zimbabwe. It is from this national origin that her name is derived.

“My name has been a blessing to me,” Semwayo said. “It has helped me in all that I do and in dealing with all types of personalities and people.”

A pleasant, soft-spoken young lady, Semwayo has immersed herself in campus life throughout her time at Wayland. She is the president of her Christian sorority, a member of Student Foundation, a President’s Ambassador, she is on the Baptist Student Ministries leadership team and she runs the 200- and 400-meter events for the Pioneer track and field team.

And now she is Miss Wayland.

“I’m still taking it in,” Semwayo said a few days after her coronation. “I’m enjoying it. I have a lot of school spirit and I like encouraging my peers in all the different things they do here at Wayland.”

While her reign is just beginning, Semwayo said she is already making plans to host an event for high school students and their parents on the Wayland campus.

“I just want to talk to them and encourage them to pursue higher education,” she said. “I can still relate to high school students and I just want to encourage them.”

Majoring in political science and youth ministry, Semwayo plans to become a lawyer specializing in international law. She also hopes to make working with youth a permanent fixture in her life.

“I love high school kids,” she said. “It is an age group I feel that I can reach. I want to reach out to them and let them know that whatever they are going through in their lives, it is not the end of the world. I know at that point in time they think whatever they are going through is the worst thing ever. I want them to know they are going to be OK, and they can still enjoy their days of youth.”

........Just as Semwayo plans to enjoy her time representing Wayland in the coming year

Semwayo was competing against six other young ladies in Saturday’s pageant. Aubrey Pedigo, a junior from Canyon, was named first runner up. Janelle Durough, a sophomore from Altus, Okla., was named second runner up and Jessica Salazar, a junior from El Paso was third runner up. Tessa Kendrick, a junior from Big Spring, received the best evening gown award and was named Miss Congeniality as voted on by her fellow competitors. Crystal Rodriguez, a sophomore from Plainview, won the award for best talent, and Alyssa Palser, a senior from Dumas, was awarded best interview.