Homecoming festivities conclude, Rogers crowned Homecoming Queen with gratitude toward the Ouachita Community

October 12, 2023

By Camryn Manning, Opinions Editor

October 12, 2023

The legacy of Ouachita’s Homecoming festivities continued this year on Sep. 30. The court nominees were selected from various groups and organizations across campus. The top 20 nominees were voted on and presented during a parade at the Purple Plaza Party and the Homecoming game, and the court was named. 4th Runner-Up was awarded to Mackenzie Shilmoeller, 3rd Runner-Up was given to Meredith Medford, 2nd Runner-Up was given to Haley Shourd, 1st Runner-Up was given to Malea Borland and Reyna Rogers was crowned 2023 Homecoming Queen. 

Jillian Covington, Student Senate External Vice President and Special Events Chair, served alongside Heather Dunavan to organize the homecoming festivities. “I served in the special events role last year as well alongside the Vice President at the time, so I could gain experience for this year,” Covington said. “I have the responsibility of overseeing the Student Senate part in planning homecoming, Miss OBU and the Academic Awards Banquet. But I don’t do this alone; I have a great time inside the Senate and both the president, Brock Bivens, and internal vice president, Malea Borland, help tremendously.”

Covington’s key tasks included gathering nominees from sponsors and presidents of campus clubs and organizations, ordering flowers and mums and the crown for the queen, setting up voting with the help of faculty on the OBU INFO Portal, organizing the Student Center parade for all nominees, organizing the Purple Plaza presentation with the top 20 girls, practicing walking on the field with the nominees, gathering presentation information for the top 20 and setting up on game day morning.

Long-standing traditions were continued with enthusiasm this year. “We continued to order the same classic, iconic mums and flowers as we have for years,” Covington said. “Homecoming is such an important and special time on our campus. We help by continuing the legacy of highlighting the women who represent Ouachita so well and then leading the student body into voting for these women.”

Nominees were able to have a special place in the homecoming festivities. Mackenzie Shilmoeller represented the Men of Rho Sigma, placing fourth runner-up in the court. While she represented a social club, she also felt that her position on the Ouachita Women’s Basketball Team was represented during that memorable moment. “As an athlete, it’s hard to have a social life outside of your sport,” Shilmoeller said. “Basketball girls supported me so much in my journey, and when I was on the field I heard my team, Rho Sigma and others I didn’t know cheering for me. I felt so loved.”

Malea Borland, represented by Student Senate, placed first runner-up. “I honestly did not expect my name to be called,” Borland said. “I clearly remember telling Jill, my escort, that once we were at our number that we had been told to stand on, we didn’t have to move. So when my name was called, I was speechless. I truly just felt so overwhelmed with thankfulness, and I felt truly blessed to have my clubs and friends cheer me on.”

Reyna Rogers was crowned Homecoming Queen with excitement. “I was actually speechless,” Rogers said.” Somewhere on Facebook there is a picture of my dad and I laughing at each other after my name is called, and that is a great representation of how I felt. It truly is such an honor just being able to walk on the field with 19 other amazing young ladies and being able to share that moment with them.”

When looking back, Rogers held nothing but gratitude for the support she found in Homecoming. “Honestly, what stands out most to me and will probably be a core memory is how supportive my community was after,” Rogers said. “Being able to be surrounded by family and friends who were all proud and happy for me made my day 10 times better. And even throughout this week, having people around campus coming up to me and telling me congratulations just goes to show the beautiful community that Ouachita has built, and I cannot be happier to represent such an amazing university.”

Borland agreed when asked to reflect on the experience. “My first favorite parts of the day were the few moments after exiting the field,” Borland said. “My close friends were there to celebrate with me and that felt sweet, but, honestly, it was the hour after that I spent alone just relishing the moments prior that were my favorite. Seeing the flowers and my dress all laid on the bed after leaving all of the hustle and bustle of the game was such a gentle experience that was solely mine to keep and treasure.”

Ouachita Homecoming may mean many things to many people, but one thing everyone can agree on is that it represents community. “Growing up here on campus, Ouachita homecoming means so much more than just a weekend reunion,” Rogers commented. “It’s a time where Ouachitionians from all different times get to come back and celebrate together not only a special place, but also so many new beginnings. This past year I was able to see old friends from some of my first years here and catch up on how much the atmosphere at OBU has changed in so many amazing ways. It is just a reminder of how one place can bring so many different people together.”

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