I interviewed my Mom, Beth. I focused my questions specifically on her history with beauty pageants, her battle with bone cancer, and her time at Baylor University. In this interview you will see how all three of those topics are connected.
As you read this I am referred to as S and my mom is B.
S:What was it like competing on the pageant circuit in high school?
B:I really didn’t compete through a “circuit” like the girls involved with the Miss America or Miss USA pageants. There were local community pageants in the northwest Houston area that provided scholarship money to the top finishers, which is why I competed at all. I did have the good fortune to win and represent reputable organizations and communities. I had a very positive experience and believe that my participation contributed to the development of my self-confidence, public speaking skills, and social skills.
S: Did you ever consider putting your kids into pageants?
B: No, I didn’t. Our communities in Austin do not have the scholarship pageants today like I experienced all those years ago in Houston. However, there have been other activities in which they participated that provided similar experiences and opportunities for growth and development of self-confidence, public speaking skills, and social skills.
S: Why didn’t you go back to that world after your battle with bone cancer? It seems like that would’ve been an inspirational comeback story.
B: After high school, I did not enter into pageants, and I developed bone cancer my sophomore year in college. However, when I did complete the cancer treatments, my sorority elected me to be their representative in the Baylor Homecoming Queen selection process along with 55 other nominated campus representatives. There was a selection process that included academic record, campus involvement, and an interview with a panel of judges. I was blessed to have been selected as Baylor’s 1986 Homecoming Queen, and that truly was a “comeback” from many months of chemotherapy and physical therapy post surgery.
S: Tell me about your experience winning Homecoming Queen at Baylor University and what that meant to you after everything that had happened.
B: Having the honor of being selected was overwhelming. I truly viewed the honor then, as I still do today, as a ready-made platform to share of God’s healing mercy in my life and to be able to encourage others who were facing huge challenges that seemed insurmountable. I had not only learned but lived the difference between “giving in” and “giving up.” I had to give into a very earthly disease that I was allowed to contract, but not give up on the fact that God was in control and would continue to provide me with the resources needed to endure the treatment and to heal. Homecoming Queen did afford multiple speaking engagements to various groups—faith-based, non-profit, corporate, and neighborhood. I was able to share God’s story that he was weaving through me and at the same time continue to advance toward goals that I had such as graduation and beginning a teaching career. Even though to many, enduring a life-threatening illness as a college coed would be cause to reflect upon those college years as “awful,” I look back on them as some of the best days to date. They made me stronger mentally, emotionally, and above all, spiritually. They taught me the value of everyday, forced me to have an entirely new perspective on life, revealed the meaning of “true” friendship, deepened my dependence upon Jesus, and underscored the fact that despite my false belief, I am not in control of my life.
S: Do you think that winning Homecoming Queen perhaps is a reason you love Baylor so much? Or is there another reason?
B: I love Baylor for its Christian values and for the “home” it provided during some of the hardest days of my life. The university demonstrated unconditional love and helped me define a new “normal” routine as I completed my senior year along with completing chemotherapy and learning to walk again. Classes that were located upstairs, were moved downstairs so I wouldn’t have the climb; I was given the privilege of staying in the guest suite at the nicest women’s residential hall, in order to have a room on the ground level, a private bath, and housekeeping service (that they provided). Baylor wanted me to not only succeed in the classroom, but to win in life.
Another very significant reason I love Baylor is because I met my husband there and share two beautiful children with him that would not have happened had I not attended the university. My husband and I have a common foundation of Baylor that we also now share with my oldest son who will graduate with a business degree in three short weeks. Also we look forward to sharing this with our daughter in a year as well.