Miss Wayland Finds an Outlet for Expression

December 5, 2018


Woman in a crown holding flowers
Keylynn Boyce was named Miss Wayland 2019 at Wayland Baptist University’s annual scholarship pageant. Boyce will represent the university throughout the coming year.

PLAINVIEW -- Keylynn Boyce vividly remembers rounding the hallway at Harral Memorial Auditorium as a freshman and catching a glimpse of the portraits of smiling young women in tiaras and the exhibit of historic photos.

“God spoke to me in that moment and said you will compete in this and win. I thought, ‘That’s exciting,’ but I was scared. I felt like it was something to do later when you’ve had more time at Wayland,” says Keylynn, a senior from Killeen. “I gave myself a few years to be present on campus and get involved and serving the community.”

At that point, Keylynn said she signed up to compete in the Miss Wayland Baptist University pageant held Nov. 17 and came away the winner, earning the right to represent her school for the coming year. As Miss Wayland 2019, she says the role means way more than a crown: it’s a lifestyle.

“I have put my heart and soul into everything I’ve done the past three years here, and I was going to do that at Miss Wayland as well. It’s been pretty surreal. It makes me feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,” she says. “When I first came I was pretty lost and not really sure what God had for me, and this place has helped me determine what my destiny could be.”

Keylynn is honest about her next steps after graduation in May 2019. She’d love to travel overseas and perhaps teach English for a few years in Shanghai or Thailand, having visited China with speech professor Dr. Yahui Zhang and developing an affinity for the country she never imagined. Or she may go directly to graduate school pursuing a doctorate in communications with a plan to teach and start her own speech and debate team at another university.

In either instance, she’ll be doing something she truly loves and found as her calling while here at Wayland. A communications major and Christian leadership minor, Keylynn first came to WBU after auditioning for the musical theatre program at the urging of sister Kierra, who was already a student at Wayland and wrestled during her time here. But soon after arriving on campus, she knew those days on the theatre stage were done and she dove into another area she’d enjoyed at Pflugerville’s Hendrickson High School where she graduated.

“I loved theatre and music, and they exposed me to another world of public speaking and expression,” she says, noting that she was particularly drawn to what speech teams called “Program of Oral Interpretation,” which allows competitors to weave ideas and mediums together with a single theme. In common lingo, it’s known as spoken word and has become a popular medium of expression. Keylynn has written many original pieces, so it was no surprise she chose it for her Miss Wayland talent competition.

“I love the vulnerability that I have to put myself in. I feel like at smaller schools it’s often professional and you maintain an image. But in my spoken word I am able to really be myself and say things I haven’t been able to say before. It allowed me to be my authentic self and get comfortable with my body and myself and be more confident,” she says.

Keylynn’s pieces often weave her strong faith in God into the message, such as overcoming adversity, controlling one’s emotions, finding joy from within. She earned a third place trophy at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association’s state tournament in early November for one of her presentations, and she placed first in dramatic interpretation.

But perhaps her greatest pride comes from being able to help start the Forensics Union at Wayland during her time here. As a freshman, Boyce approached Dr. Tim Doty, her mentor and speech professor, with the idea to start a speech team, and he jumped at the chance to have a student help. When Anita Salazar joined as the second member, she brought connections to other schools that helped WBU network and get plugged into the greater community.

The Wayland team hosted a high school speech and debate tournament in November 2015 and have repeated that each year, with another coming in January 2019. Since the Wayland team is still small, they’ve relied on community volunteers to help with the hosting duties. Those opportunities presented challenges but Keylynn said they have all resulted in growth.

“Wayland really fosters relationships, and when you find mentors that are dedicated to your success it gives you an opportunity to do things we might not be able to do,” she says. “We know how to stretch our resources and make things work for us.”

Keylynn is the third of five children born to her parents and three long-time foster sisters. Her father works in business management in Killeen and her mother works in foster care.

“I get my witty personality and charisma from both of them,” she laughs. “I had a great family life and had everything I needed and so much more than I deserve. I was super blessed.”

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