PLAINVIEW – As a young girl, Plainview native Alpha Jennings remembers gazing wistfully at the portraits of former Miss Wayland winners lining the walls on McClung Center’s second floor. Her imagination kicked in.
“I would see those girls with crowns on the wall and I wanted to be on the wall too,” Jennings remembered with a grin.
Soon, the Wayland Baptist University senior will get her wish and be ‘on the wall,’ after winning the Miss Wayland crown in the November pageant. She joins a long line of young women who have represented the university in the community and beyond and served as role models for young girls.
To those who know Alpha, the win was no surprise. With a reputation for being someone who goes after her goals, the pageant was no different than anything for which Jennings has worked hard throughout her life.
Alpha candidly admits she felt from the start that she had a chance of winning the crown, saying she had prayed for the opportunity and never felt nervous. Though it took her a few years to get up the courage to compete at all, she went into the pageant with a confidence she said only came from God.
“I went in there with the purpose of winning, and that confidence was a blessing from God and my encouragement that I could do this,” she said. “For me to win Miss Wayland, it was a way for God to say, ‘As long as you keep me on top, you’ll always win.’”
For Alpha, the title is only another step in her fulfilling God’s call on her life, a call to minister to others through whatever talents and abilities she’s been given. She sees the pageant and her year-long reign as a chance to be obedient.
“The whole time I’ve been here, I haven’t been involved in much, so now I wanted to be more of a leader and to be a light for Wayland,” she said. “It’s an honor to be Miss Wayland, but at the same time a huge responsibility. God has opened this door for a purpose.
“My prayer is that in all I do God stays in the picture. There’s more to it besides the crown.”
That strength and confidence has been a pattern for Jennings, who graduated a year early from high school and began working toward her chosen career at a young age. A long-time fan of hair, Alpha began attending cosmetology school at the Galleria Beauty School in Plainview the summer after her freshman year in high school, in large part due to a gift left by her godmother, the late Aldria Henderson, after her death. She continued classes after school for the following year. Though she was technically finished with her course requirements a few summers later, she had to wait until the next January and her 17th birthday in order to take the exam for her cosmetology license.
“I was the youngest one there, and my parents had to come and verify my age so I could take the test,” she said, noting she wasn’t worried about the exam, which includes a written portion and a long practical exam. “Hair has always been fun for me, so to take a test on it was actually pretty fun.”
Jennings worked for a few months at Pro-Cuts, then enrolled at Wayland the next fall to pursue her degree. Though she admits she was happy with just the cosmetology school behind her, parents Marilyn and Edward Jennings had raised their daughter to appreciate a college education and “it was just a known thing at our house that you were going to college.”
The Jenningses encouraged their daughter to attend their alma mater, asking her to try at least two years at the local university they attended in the 1970s. Alpha obliged, then opted to stay after finding herself enjoying the Christian university. She first chose education and psychology as majors then found a better fit in business.
Now, in her senior year, Jennings juggles a full-time job at Fast Cutters, a full class load of 19 semester hours and her new role as Miss Wayland. She’s also president of Zeta Zeta Zeta, a Christian sorority. She’s also felt a recent calling to be a worship leader and singer and has begun serving more in that role.
She will graduate in the spring and plans to stay in Plainview for a while longer before moving to a larger city like Dallas or Houston and working her way up the cosmetology ladder, eventually hoping to own her own salon in a metropolitan city. The future holds lots of open doors for Alpha, who says she’d be glad to be a minister for God if he asked her and dreams of being a wife and mother as well.
Jennings said her parents are proud of her accomplishments, and mom Marilyn, who was runner-up for the Miss Wayland crown as a senior, was elated that Alpha won the title. Marilyn works as a teacher and head of the special education department at Plainview High School. Edward, who once played basketball for the Wayland Pioneers, is employed by Xcel Energy and pastors the New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. She has a brother, Terrence, who is a music teacher and music minister in McKinney.