Make Way for Way-Con!

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On October 30, the School of Languages and Literature teamed up with sixty plus organizations including the Gamers Guild, School of Math and Sciences, the Jimmy Dean Museum, and many others to create the first-ever Way-Con event. Way-Con is Wayland’s version of a traditional Comic-Con, consisting of vendor booths with different merchandise being sold and various activities to sign up for. This event was held in the Moody Science Building, weaving through the multi-purpose room (MPR), connecting to the Atrium underneath the library on campus. Raffle tickets were sold, gaming tournaments took place, and contests were held throughout the day.

There were twenty-two vendors signed up, the five schools on the Plainview campus, and three student organizations. Just a handful of booths included: Stormcrow Games who helped run the tabletop game tournaments with Dr. Chris Thornhill who is a Professor of Mathematics at Wayland, the E-Sports lab who ran the video-game tournaments, Black Dog Enterprises, Monster’s Lair Comics, T-Mobile, and D&D Studios. In addition to the vendors, Way-Con also featured workshops and trivia activities overseen mostly by Dr. Chuck Nelms, Professor of Mathematics at Wayland. Mike Edlin, a former employee at the Skywalker Ranch, hosted a workshop on the infamous franchise Star Wars. Some of the most popular activities during the event were the E-Sports lab and tabletop tournaments in the Atrium.

Dr. Kimberlee Mendoza, Dean of the School of Languages and Literature, worked tirelessly on preparing this long-awaited event. Fortunately, Dr. Mendoza was not the only one who had their hand in this fantastic convention. She had help ranging from several faculty organizations to the entire WBU and Plainview community!

“I used to work at a Comic-Con in San Diego and I came up with the idea for Way-Con after the school of L&L started a tabletop game design specialization. I also heard that the Gamers Guild was an active group on campus, and I wanted to do something for them. The idea was to make a playground for every kind of nerd,” Dr. Mendoza said. “We originally had our first meeting in 2019 but stopped due to COVID. This time around, we started preparations in July 2020.”   

Bailey Hair, Treasurer of the Gamers Guild, challenged adults and children alike with memorable and compelling audios. This booth was sponsored by the School of Creative Arts, where Hair would play an intro to a theme song and the audience had to piece it together with a graphic art design.

“We compiled a game to show that the School of Creative Arts is now the School of Music and School of Fine Arts put together,” Hair said. “I got some of the graphic design majors to make us art prints of various nerd franchises while I compiled audio clips from each one as well. We had headphones that were sanitized after every person since they had to wear it and point out which graphic corresponds to the audio.”

Five rounds of trivia were held throughout the day. Dr. Niler Pyeatt, Director of Wayland’s Honor’s Program, hosted a difficult round of Lord of the Rings trivia, stumping even the most well-versed fans. Chloe Barnum and Leonel Falcon presented a round of superhero trivia fun, followed by Star Wars trivia from Mike Edlin. The final rounds of trivia covered Anime knowledge with Bailey Hair and Luke Chaffin and general Sci-fi and Fantasy trivia with Dr. Nelms.

In the auditorium, Way-Con held workshops where attendees learned about 3-D Modeling with Dr. Scott Franklin, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Wayland. Later, Mike Edlin provided the Inside Scoop covering his time working at Skywalker Ranch. Then, Evan Puckett taught a class on world-building for tabletop games and D&D Studios taught a class on the ins and outs of making comics. Prior to the cosplay contest, Chloe and Leonel talked Cosplay 101, and the workshops closed out with an informative lecture about Freelancing your Creativity from Professor Ricky Mendoza.

Not only did booths offer sweet treats, but cakes and pie played a role Saturday evening as well. Children and adults alike flocked for one of the final activities of the night: a cakewalk! Then, E-sports Coach Duncan Sweeney received a pie in the face from one lucky raffle winner.

One of the crowd-favorite contests at Way-Con was the Cosplay Contest. With twenty contestants entering, the spice was on! Chloe Barham, Secretary of the Gamers Guild, and Lionel Falcon, vice president of Gamers Guild, judged the event. They awarded a first, second, and third place. A fourth winner was chosen by the crowd as the fan favorite. Third place went to Dr. Corin Olivas, Assistant Professor of Biology at Wayland, dressed as Link from the Legend of Zelda. Second place went to Anara Thornhill, daughter of Dr. Thornhill, dressed as Elphaba from Wicked. First place was awarded to Faithe Hambright, a Wayland student, dressed as Ghost Deaf Deku from My Hero Academia. The fan favorite, chosen by popular vote of Way-Con attendees, was a young boy named Otto Cooke dressed as Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist.

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With 389 people that attended Way-Con, including individuals that traveled from Oklahoma and Colorado, Dr. Mendoza has already set the date for the next convention: October 29, 2022. With the amount of success Way-Con brought, more people want to get involved with this event for the coming years to make it even more special.

“Some of the vendors have requested to be even more involved, so I hope to take it to the next level,” Mendoza said. “I honestly didn't know what to expect, but I wanted it to feel like a real Con. To give something back to those students and people in the community that love nerd-dom.”

Wayland plans to make Way-Con an annual event hosted on campus every October. Look out for updates in Fall 2022, or email Dr. Mendoza at if you would like more information.



Photos by Asta Edlin and Nathan McLinsky