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Release date:November 9

New Miss Wayland "humbled" by her title

Ashley Wood never set out with high hopes to win the title of Miss Wayland Baptist University. But on Nov. 3, she did just that, becoming the 30th young woman to hold the title.

Wood, a sophomore speech communications major from Gordon, said she entered the pageant with her friend and roommate Melissa O'Brien "just for fun" after both heard about the event last year. That same fun prevailed until the pageant got closer.

"After everything started, that competitive nature kicked in and we realized that everyone had a chance to win," she said. "There was no one person who stood head and shoulders above the rest that we all thought would win."

After the judges had narrowed the field to five - and Wood was still standing - her hopes dimmed after seeing the other four girls with her. But in the end, it was Wood who wore the crown.

But for her, the biggest reward of the pageant was the experience itself.

"Just getting to know all those girls better and watching God work in so many ways was rewarding," she said.

As far as holding the title of Miss Wayland 2002, Wood said she is mainly just humbled to have been chosen.

"I'm excited and humbled to have this position - to represent the school that's my home, the people that are my friends and God, who gave it all to me," she said. "But it's very humbling, because I know there are so many girls who could do just as good a job."

In the coming year, Wood will make numerous appearances for civic groups, churches and official university functions and she is excited to be able to share the musical talents with which God has blessed her with the public. A songwriter, Wood performed one of her own compositions for her pageant talent.

"I know God put me in this position for a reason, and ultimately that's to glorify him," she said. "I'm excited that through all this I can go out and share my testimony and share what Wayland means to me and share my music talent. That's neat to me."

Wood is a member of the musical ensemble Rejoice, Student Foundation, the Baptist Student Ministries Leadership Team and Wayland Singing Women. She is also sophomore class president and sings in several praise bands at the university.

Ashley Wood flanked by Miranda Turner (l.) and Andrea Turner Junior Miranda Turner of Tulia was named first runner up in the pageant, and junior Andrea Turner of Plainview was second runner-up. Other awards given at the post-pageant reception were honors for Miss Congeniality, which went to sophomore Melissa O'Brien. Best Talent was presented to Ashley Applewhite and Best Evening Gown was given to Amanda Barker. Leah Nichols received the award for Best Interview.

Besides a $750 scholarship from Wayland, the new Miss Wayland received a nine-meal cafeteria plan from Sodexho, $200 from Five-Star Auctioneers and numerous other gift baskets and gift certificates from local merchants.