Former and current students of Colorado State University-Pueblo will come together Oct. 11 to celebrate the 82nd year of the school and crown a winner from this year’s diverse group of homecoming royalty.
The “Pack Attack: Welcome Homecoming 2015” event will welcome back students who attended Southern Colorado Junior College, Pueblo Junior College, Southern Colorado State College, the University of Southern Colorado and CSU-Pueblo.
“Homecoming provides the opportunity for alumni of the university to gather and network with other alumni of their respective departments or organizations that they were a part of when they were a student at the university,” said Gena Alfonso, director of student engagement and leadership.
“The university was their ‘home’ for their tenure at CSU-Pueblo so homecoming is essentially a time for them to come ‘home,'” she said.
One of the most anticipated homecoming activities is the announcement of royalty.
“The Homecoming Royalty competition is a long-standing tradition,” Alfonso said. “They (the candidates) participate in events during Homecoming Week and are encouraged to give back to the campus community and the greater Pueblo community throughout the year.”
“Their campus and community involvement is taken in consideration during the judging process.”
The university changed the nomination process a bit this year. In the past, students only had to apply to compete for the crown, but this year, candidates were nominated by members of a club or organization on campus.
According to Alfonso, the university wants the candidates to be the embodiment of the CSU-Pueblo community. The court represents several of the organizations on campus, including Associated Students’ Government, athletics, SOUL, fraternity and sorority life, PRIZM, the Latino Students’ Union and the CSU-Pueblo International Students’ Association.
“The students that are crowned Mr. and Miss CSU-Pueblo receive a crown and a sash,” Alfonso said.
“They will also receive a scholarship to attend the CSU-Pueblo Student Leadership Experience, be asked to present one of the awards at the Student Leadership and Involvement Awards in April and will be encouraged to return next year to crown the 2016 Mr. and Miss CSU-Pueblo,” she added.
CSU-Pueblo is often recognized for its melting pot of students from all different socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities and other differences.
Alfonso said CSU-Pueblo has always had a diverse group of students participate in the homecoming royalty competition and this year is no different. The university is celebrating diversity in an even bigger way this year: two out of the 10 women competing for the homecoming court title are transgender.
Winter Naomi Vera and Lise Swanson are the first transgender women to participate in the homecoming royalty competition. They were nominated by CSU-Pueblo’s LGBTQQA group PRIZM.
“This school has given me the opportunity to be myself and I couldn’t have done it elsewhere … I want to represent this school in every way I can,” Vera said.
Center for International Programs Asian Recruiter and former CSU-Pueblo student M. Talha Qureshi made history in 2013 as he was the first ever international student to win the homecoming king title.
“Diversity has gone beyond color, which is the most important thing,” he said.
Qureshi said people from his community in Pakistan were praising him for “becoming the first Muslim to win a pageant in America.”
Qureshi is also a judge on this year’s panel, and he said he is most proud of the participation and support from the clubs to the candidates.
Competing alongside Vera and Swanson are Fredlina Atencio, Vanessa Gallegos, Nicole Hulet, Anna Jordan, Jennifer Lara-Reynoso, Lucas Moreno, Emma Paulson, Rosa Ramos, Jessica Rein, Anthony Schievelbein, Jonothan Stephenson and Brandon Wilson.
Those in attendance of the annual homecoming events will also get the opportunity to display their school spirit from Oct. 5 to 11. The spirit week events, which will feature ‘90s fashion and lifestyle, have been planned by the CSU-Pueblo Alumni Association and the office of Student Engagement and Leadership.
The Health Education and Prevention Program has largely been responsible for promotion of spirit week.
“They have promoted the daily themes through posters around campus, social media, and an online contest,” Alfonso said. “If students dress for the themed days they are encouraged to take a photo and post it to their social media account with the hashtag #evenzombiesknow for a chance to win a gas card.”
On Saturday, Oct. 10, the No. 10 ranked ThunderWolf football team takes the field versus Fort Lewis College at 2 p.m. at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized during halftime.
Alfonso says the university will have a fun twist to the dance following Saturday’s events. A company called Glow Rage is hosting a “Paint U” event.
“This event was chosen by our Student Programming Board last spring. The company will cover the Rec Center Gymnasium completely from floor to ceiling with protective material, they will bring a live DJ, lighting and sound and there will be paint thrown into the crowd via buckets and paint canons,” Alfonso said.
“Students are encouraged to wear clothing worthy of being paint splattered,” she said.
In order, the 2015 CSU-Pueblo homecoming court consists of Winter Naomi Vera, Vanessa Gallegos, Rosa Ramos, Nicole Hulet, Lucas Moreno, Lise Swanson, Jonothan Stephenson, Jessica Rein, Jennifer Lara-Reynoso, Fredlina Atencio, Emma Paulson, Brandon Wilson, Anthony Schievelbein and Anna Jordan. Photos courtesy of CSU-Pueblo Student Engagement and Leadership.