Homecoming is a time for alumni to return to their alma mater for football games, school spirit and, of course, the court.
Each year, every college has the opportunity to nominate two of its finest students as homecoming princes and princesses. Those students are then interviewed by a panel that chooses the one man and woman who best represent school spirit, involvement in Cal Poly extracurricular activities and academic achievement, said agricultural science junior and Poly Reps alumni chair Jordan Albiani, who helped organize the homecoming court selection this year.
“Essentially, the students that we’re looking for are students that represent the best of their college and the best of Cal Poly as a whole,” Albiani said.
And every college has its own method for choosing its representatives in court, Albiani said. Some colleges have students apply, others ask for nominations from clubs, while others ask for recommendations from faculty, Albiani said.
There are no restrictions by the university on who can be named royalty by the colleges, Albiani said, though freshmen are rarely chosen. Seniors are often part of the homecoming court simply because they’ve had more time to become involved in campus life, Albiani said.
In the end, though, the top two students from each college face the same process before getting their chance to be named homecoming king or queen, Cal Poly Fund Director Chris McBride said.
“Every college nominates their prince and princess and that group is interviewed by a panel,” McBride said.
This year, that panel included interim vice president of student affairs Preston Allen, as well as a representative from the homecoming committee, last year’s homecoming queen, a member of the football team, and Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s wife, Sharon Armstrong, which was especially exciting, College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM) princess and biological sciences senior Lauren Fanella said.
Fanella was one of several women nominated by COSAM Ambassadors and COSAM Counsel, and became princess after a vote was taken, she said.
Fanella was excited to represent COSAM, but nervous when she found out one of the five panel members was Sharon Armstrong, she said.
Nevertheless, she took the interview as an opportunity to share her love of her college and Cal Poly, Fanella said.
“It’s always good to talk about Cal Poly and COSAM,” Fanella said.
Fanella’s nomination was also an honor for her, she said, because she’s been in the college since her freshman year and is passionate about it. Fanella is appreciative of her selection, she said.
“I love my college. I’m obsessed with it, so it’s really awesome to represent it,” Fanella said.
Together, the panel asked each candidate the same five questions that were meant to highlight the prince or princess’ involvement in Cal Poly’s culture as well as their green and gold spirit, Albiani said.
The ideal king and queen are two students who are spirited and active on campus without letting their grades suffer, and are extremely proud of being Mustangs, Albiani said.
“They really just enjoy being here at Cal Poly,” Albiani said.
And that sense of enjoyment goes hand-in-hand with the goal of homecoming week: to get students involved and amped about their school, Albiani said.
As homecoming court, the students selected by their colleges participate in the festivities such as rallies in the University Union Plaza and Friday’s alumni dinner, as well as encourage others to be as spirited as they are, Albiani said.
All of the festivities are part of making sure homecoming has a strong legacy today at Cal Poly, Albiani said.
“Homecoming court is kind of the foundations of a traditional homecoming,” Albiani said.
This year, the princes are Andrew Jimenez for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED), Rob Esposito for COSAM, Connor Paquin for the College of Engineering, Kevin Esau for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), Sean O’Brien for the Orfalea College of Business and Aaron Borgeson for the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
The princesses are Tala Fatolahzadeh for CAED, Lauren Fanella for COSAM, Ari Greenberg-McClung for the College of Engineering, Breanne Harlan for CAFES, Kelly O’Rourke for the Orfalea College of Business and Elise Erb for CLA.
The king and queen will be announced at halftime during the homecoming football game on Saturday.