Special to the News Messenger

East Texas Baptist University junior Ronni Ward of Logansport, La., was crowned as the 63rd Miss ETBU on Saturday, March 30.

Actively involved in the ETBU community as a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), Political Awareness Society and Tiger Cheer, Ward was selected from among 12 contestants at the annual scholarship pageant sponsored by ETBU’s SGA. As Miss ETBU, she receives a generous academic scholarship as well as the opportunity to represent the University throughout the community and region during her reign.

“In my two years at ETBU, I have not come across a single person who was not willing to talk with me about God and what sparks their fire to pursue Him,” Ward, a speech communication major, said. “The ETBU community makes me feel more passionate in my field and walk with Christ every day. It is truly a gift to be able to live on the Hill. In my role as Miss ETBU, I want to tell others about the University and share the Good News of Christ. I hope to use this platform to further the Kingdom of God.”

During her undergraduate education, Ward has made the president’s list for academics each semester and received the Titus Award from Tiger Cheer. Alongside her participation in the campus community, Ward invests in The Unstoppables, a club she began in her hometown to allow special needs students to build relationships with others through trips and projects. As a member of First Baptist Church Logansport, Ward serves as a leader for the youth group. Miss ETBU 2018 Kayla Barrentine, assisted by ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn, passed the crown and encouragement to Ward during the ceremony.

“Receiving the title of Miss ETBU 2018 was an incredible honor that I will never forget,” Barrentine said. “This experience helped me grow in my walk with the Lord, build relationships and represent the University. My advice to Miss ETBU 2019 is to take advantage of every opportunity to serve through the role.”

Prior to the pageant, a ceremony was held for all former Miss ETBU winners. The reception enabled past recipients to reminisce over shared experiences and exchange advice and encouragement.

“I had the privilege of meeting Miss ETBU 1959, Shirley Elledge. Following the pageant, she approached me and encouraged me to continue to follow my dreams,” ETBU junior Child Development major Gloria Baker of Longview said. “Participating in Miss ETBU was an honor that far exceeded my expectations. From the beginning to the end, I was affirmed constantly. The experience helped me grow more confidently into the woman God has called me to be.”

In addition to being named first runner-Up, Baker was given the Best Talent Award for her American Sign Language (ASL) performance of “This Is Me” from the film “The Greatest Showman.” Second runner-up, junior nursing major Chloe Jenkins of Mesquite, was also voted Miss Congeniality, the contestant who earned the respect and admiration of her peers and deemed the most congenial, charismatic and inspirational participant.

“The other contestants were the sweetest women I’ve ever met,” Jenkins said. “We talked about how much we wanted to support each other, rather than intimidate one another. I received an immense amount of positive feedback from these girls on my talent and character. The most rewarding aspect of participating in the pageant for me was seeing so many women exude God’s love.”