Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual Homecoming festivities are just as much tradition as they are innovation. Every year, Homecoming brings something new and unique to the table, and this year’s fall Homecoming, which takes place from November 8-15, is no exception. A continuing VCU tradition, Homecoming Court, will also be a part of this year’s fall Homecoming – a favorite Homecoming tradition and a great way to get involved on campus, the VCU Homecoming Court is accepting applications starting Monday, August 17. While many may be daunted by the idea of Homecoming Court, last year’s sophomore court winner Kristina Hipolito has some words of wisdom to encourage all who are interested to take part in this unforgettable experience.
By Kristina Hipolito
Coming into college, I was pretty shy and I still can be! I never in a million years would have thought to even put myself in a position where I’d have to be in the public eye, let alone stand in front of the entire student body as a Homecoming candidate.
That first semester of freshman year, I told myself that I would join organizations and really get involved on campus. As a Public Relations major, being involved is important, especially for networking opportunities. Little did I know, that getting involved on my campus would allow me to meet and become friends with students from all across the school. I soon became known as “the girl who stops to say hi to everyone” among my friends.
The first time running for Homecoming ever crossed my mind was one late night trip to Cane’s with some friends at the beginning of my sophomore year. In just that walk alone, I had probably stopped to say hello to a few people that I had either met living at Brandt, friends I had made while volunteering, or even an acquaintance or two that I usually exchange smiles with just walking on campus. My friend turned to me and said in a joking manner, “You know everyone. You should run for Homecoming.” That was the only time I ever thought about it. I never saw myself as a popular person. Growing up, my mom always taught me to be nice to everyone and that’s why I always made sure to say hello to anyone I had met even once. That, and I genuinely enjoy being around people.
Once the end of the semester came around, my sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, had nominations to select a member to represent us from each year. They nominated me as their sophomore candidate and I’m beyond grateful that they saw potential in me even when I didn’t. Representing my organization and the school that had help me grow so much in just the two years I’d been here was a dream to me! I accepted my nomination and submitted my Homecoming application. About a week or so later, I was offered an interview.
I left the interview feeling good about it, but I honestly didn’t think it was my best. The night candidates were revealed I was so nervous! I even thought about not showing up. They called out freshmen candidates, then sophomore males, and then came my category….and I was not chosen to be a sophomore duchess candidate. My heart sank, but at the same time, I was happy for those who were chosen because it was definitely well deserved.
Fast-forward a few weeks later and I’m back at home for winter break. It was only a few days before Christmas and I had received an email from our Homecoming Court Chair. I was informed that one of the candidates had dropped from the race and I was next in line for the position! That was a Christmas present to remember. I may not have initially been in the selected group, but it’s an amazing opportunity nonetheless, so of course I had to accept!
Once we returned from winter break and the entire Homecoming court met, I became nervous again. There was so much competition and everyone was extremely sweet and talented. At this point, I didn’t even think about winning. I was so proud that I even got the opportunity to stand with these individuals.
Everything moved pretty fast and before I knew it, Homecoming Week was here. Being the slightly timid person I am, I had a hard time going up to people to hand them a flyer and ask them to vote for me. Thank goodness I had support from my friends and sorority sisters! Even the Homecoming Window they painted for me outdid my expectations! The whole week flew by and I had such a great time at each event from our Light Up The Night event where we had sparklers, different activities, and food to the Pep Rally where the freshman winners were announced.
The night of the Homecoming Concert (where the Sophomore Duke and Duchess were announced), I actually wasn’t very nervous at all. This was all about the experience, not winning or losing. I got to meet incredible people and we were like one big family. I had zero expectations walking on that stage in front of everyone and when they announced me as VCU’s 2015 Homecoming Sophomore Duchess, I felt beyond humbled and blessed. The support I got from friends and family was overwhelming.
Still to this day, I can’t believe that I was actually crowned VCU Sophomore Homecoming Duchess. It won’t be winning duchess that I’ll remember; it’ll be the friendships and the memories I made throughout the entire Homecoming experience that I’ll take with me post-graduation. I’m proud to represent a school that has impacted me in more ways than I can count. I’m proud to be a VCU Ram!