“To wear the title of Ouachita Baptist University, you have to understand that your service doesn’t come from the crown on your head; it comes from the crown on His. Your duty first and foremost to your university is first and foremost to your God. I think it becomes so much more heavy when you wear Ouachita Baptist University,” said Julie Williams, who was crowned Miss OBU 2019 last Saturday.
You would probably recognize this political science and communications major from Arkadelphia anywhere on campus. Her daily uniform typically includes sparkly heels and at minimum business casual attire. With hair up, makeup on and sophistication and class radiating as her heels click across the university floors, Williams is the editor-in-chief of The Signal, a member of Student Senate and College Republicans, an honors student and now the reigning Miss OBU. However, she never quite imagined being a pageant girl.
“I had intentionally kind of stayed away from it all when I was younger, simply because I never really thought I could be a part of it. I never viewed myself as that kind of person that could succeed the way that those women did,” Williams said. “My parents really encouraged me to just try it once.”
And try she did. Williams’ first pageant was last year’s Miss OBU, where she was named first runner up. The following day, after growing encouragement from community members and pageant leaders, Williams competed for the title of Miss Southwest Arkansas, and ended up being crowned. Representing the community she grew up in was a dream come true and a highlight of 2018 she hadn’t pictured. After a year full of joy holding the title of her people, Williams was completely honored. Elated by checking this experience off her bucket list, as of last fall, Williams had not decided if she would compete again this year. However, when nominated by Student Senate, Williams prayed about the opportunity and subsequently accepted the nomination.
With support from her family and friends, Williams moved forward, blanketing the outcome with utmost prayer. Asking her close peers and Sunday school class for specific prayer requests, Williams felt completely at peace last Saturday, knowing that no matter what, the Lord was in control.
Loving every single girl that stood by her on stage Saturday evening, Williams was completely honored when her name was called as the new Miss OBU.
“The first thing I remember was my dad, and he just stood there and didn’t say a word,” Williams said. “Of course, my mom was crying, and talking and taking pictures because my mom is like the ultimate photographer mom. So, she was taking photos and my dad just hugged me and held me for about 30 seconds and just kept saying ‘I’m proud of you’ and ‘You made us proud’…I think this title meant just as much to my parents as it did to me…I think they felt the weight of it just as much as I did, if not more.”
When it comes to the weight of the crown, Williams holds this experience to the highest respect and prays to wear it with grace, dignity and elegance.
“Ouachita is just as much a part of who I am as this town is. I find pride in being from both Arkadelphia and from Ouachita, and I have increased a network both politically, socially, professionally and spiritually that I would not have had had it not been for specific individuals at Ouachita. I’ve always said that being from somewhere is not about the place; it’s about the people. And when I won that I thought of dozens—dozens of individuals and specific names and faces, many of whom were on that stage to take a picture with me that night, many of whom were in that crowd that were the entire reason I was here to begin with, and I don’t mean just in a pageant; I mean at this university,” Williams said. “They changed my life and they invested in me and when you start wearing their name, you realize that you are branded about who you are. It makes it official as though I belong to them, and that is one of the most beautiful feelings I have ever had in my time at Ouachita is that I’m branded a Ouachitonian.”
No matter what she is doing, Julie wants to showcase the love she has for her savior.
“To wear the title of Ouachita Baptist University, you have to understand that your service doesn’t come from the crown on your head; it comes from the crown on his. Your duty first and foremost to your university is first and foremost to your God. I think it becomes so much more heavy when you wear Ouachita Baptist University,” Williams said.
Williams is ecstatic about the next year and can’t wait to put on her crown and represent the people of Ouachita. However, at the end of the day, after the fake eyelashes have been taken off, Williams is oh so humbled by this opportunity and still in awe that the Lord chose her to be the woman behind the sash.
“I’ve read the end of the book; He wins. We throw those crowns at his feet anyway,” Williams said. “Yeah, it’s a fun sparkly hat to wear for a year, but you want to know, and I pray that I am the same Julie not wearing the crown that I am wearing it. And at the end of the day, I want to make sure that crown is laying at His feet.”
By Ethan Dial, online editor