Anteater Royalty

We often don’t think Homecoming will follow us from high school to college, but this Homecoming, there was a unique vibe. This year’s Homecoming Court candidates garnered support from their teammates, freshmen residents and old friends as they celebrated UCI’s 2014 Homecoming week. Spirited Anteaters filled the Bren Center to cheer on UCI’s basketball team and applaud for their favorite homecoming court candidates at this year’s Homecoming Game last Saturday, Jan. 25.

UCI’s 2014 Homecoming King, David Conley, fourth-year computer game science major, and Homecoming Queen, Jackie Uweh, fourth-year film and media studies and drama double major, held their crown and tiara on their heads with humble glances as they waved to their fans after a week full of comradery with their fellow court candidates.

“It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around this whole thing. The support and love I’ve received over these last couple of weeks has been nothing short of incredible. Win or lose, that alone would have been enough. There’s nothing quite like being on the court, looking out in the stands, and seeing the people you love cheering as loud as they can back at you,” Conley said.

The Office of Student Services, The Alumni Association and UCI Athletics pulled their resources together to host Homecoming Week at UCI. Thomas Doan, fourth-year psychology and social behavior major, the festivals commissioner, along with Tann Lien, third-year biological science major, and Lauren Villegas, fourth-year undecided/undeclared major, festivals assistant commissioners helped the homecoming court share their voices with their fellow Anteaters.  Monday’s volunteer event kicked off the week with a Cross-Cultural Center sponsored trip to the OC Food Bank. Raymond Delacruz, homecoming candidate and fourth-year business administration major and digital information systems minor, packed food boxes with his fellow candidates, believing their work was making a positive impact in Orange County.

“It was an opportunity to take a step back and realize how fortunate we can be,” Delacruz said.

Lily Karbassioon, homecoming candidate and fourth-year international studies and economics double major, enjoyed seeing the court members work together for the first time.

“It was the first time the court actually got together to participate in an activity outside of school so it was interesting to see what everyone’s personality was like,” Karbassioon said. The week’s following events were held at noon in the Student Center, from Tuesday to Friday. Tuesday’s Anteater Games challenged the court’s fashion sense as they picked out their best 45-second-outfit from a mysterious box. Evan Seigler, homecoming candidate and fourth-year computer engineering major, dressed as Anna, the younger sister from the film, Frozen, while Tia Owens, homecoming candidate and fourth-year criminology, law and society major, strutted around with a scarf which she turned into a jump rope.

Wednesday held a challenge fit for a UCI historian, the UCI Trivia Bowl. Did “The Conquest of Planet of the Apes” film on campus? This was just the right question for campus representative, Adam “Smilez” Gomez, homecoming candidate and fourth-year drama and psychology and social behavior double major. Knowing the answer from day one of his job guiding UC Irvine newcomers around campus, Gomez responded with a ‘yes.’

Thursday’s events were filled with humor and honor as UCI Improv performed and Dean of Students, Rameen Talesh, shocked students with his own knack for singing. Rameen fulfilled his fundraising goal for the Promise for Education campaign and performed an upbeat concert for students. B-Boys Anonymous freestyle dance team and Modern Completely Insane Anteaters (MCIA) dance team helped him start and close the show. He sang songs from Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” to rapping Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind.” Rameen’s backup singers were Tamara Storey, director of the Gender Education Initiative within Student Life and Leadership, and Dr. Marcelle Holmes, assistant vice chancellor within Wellness, Health and Counseling Services. Rameen also jammed with chemistry professor, Craig Martens, and engineering professor, Mark Bachman, along with Mason Sedlik, a third-year information and computer science major.

“The crowd was enthusiastic and supportive. Many folks have been saying it should be an annual thing, though I’m not sure I would perform eight songs again,” Rameen said.

Friday’s Talent Show was the favorite for many of the candidates as it gave each of them a chance to showcase their talents and goofy side.

“I changed lyrics to ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo and I named it ‘Zot Zot for me’,” Seigler said.

Todd Braverman, homecoming candidate and fourth-year criminology, law and society major whose slogan is “like Superman but braver” broke a phonebook in half.

“You could see the diversity on the court based on what each member brought,” Braverman said. Logan Kimberly, homecoming candidate and fourth-year dance and psychology and social behavior double major, was in her element as she performed a hip-hop dance piece. Chelsea Magracia, homecoming candidate and fourth-year literary journalism major and philosophy minor, struck the crowd with her ballet and spirit combination.
At the halftime show at the Homecoming Game between the UCI basketball team versus the University of Hawai’i, the candidates walked to the center of the court, escorted by parents and loved ones. The humble disbelief in the faces of this year’s homecoming king and queen reflected their personalities in their campaign film shorts.

Conley shared his enthusiasm for his fellow students as a SPOP staffer for Phoenix and Tie-Dye year, current SPOP coordinator, and much more. Conley’s residents filled a whole row of the center holding up signs to spell our #davidisking in support of their R.A.

“My best friends from my first-year hall in Mesa Court were there supporting me and could barely contain themselves. Winning is obviously wonderful, but it’s little gestures like that that made the whole experience worth it,” Conley said. Before he became a Resident Advisor for Mesa Court’s Loma residents, he worked as a center attendant at Mesa Court and worked on the New University Editorial Board as photo editor. He also teaches freshmen as a discussion leader for university studies.

Uweh couldn’t wait for her senior year to share her Anteater spirit with her fellow students on a full campus scale.

“I’m pretty involved in campus and running for homecoming queen was something fun to do for my last year,” Uweh said. Middle Earth Resident Advisor and Campus Representative, Uweh kept herself busy spreading UCI spirit and support to new coming anteaters. She was also a SPOP staffer for both Phoenix and Mint years. When she wasn’t mentoring freshmen, she exhibited her comedic on-stage personality at Soulstice and is a dancer in MCIA. Whether they are guiding incoming students, lending a helpful hand to their freshmen residents, or spreading UCI knowledge to fellow anteaters, this year’s king and queen really know what it takes to make their mark on campus.

“It’s surreal. I’m really in awe and blessed to be here. It’s a wonderful feeling to have support. It’s a culmination of everything I’ve done here,” Conley said.